Corrupted Transmission

Means and Motive, Part II

Hillcrest Mental Health Center, Greenwood, Mid to Late November

With Frank Brooks release, Dr. Trevor Sorenson had been busy with his normal work. That was interrupted by the arrival of numerous cement trucks over the past week. A firm called Angel Construction had been commissioned to shore up the East Wing’s foundation. The psychologist knew that could only mean filling in the tunnels beneath the asylum.

With his usual conspiracy laden suspicious, Sorenson was preoccupied trying to learn who or what was behind this. While he supported sealing up the dangers below the hospital, the mystery intrigued him. Angel Construction itself wasn’t a subsidiary of another company but the way they were hired was odd. It was a state contract but requested via the administration. But digging deeper, he finds the request was from the state, but no one at the head office know anything about it. The money trail doesn’t lead anywhere. He isn’t sure Angel construction is even being paid.

He theorizes that this is a cover for a special government agency covering up supernatural occurrences. One really weird detail though, is that the construction company has seven John Mills on the payroll, out of only 50 employees. Maybe it is a typo.

Hillcrest Mental Health Center, Greenwood, November 24th, 11 PM

Dr. Sorenson looks up from his papers and research and realizes the late hour. Before he leaves though he remebers to finally check his messages. One is from Frank. He seems worried and claims to have been recently attacked in his home. Lillian Shaw has left three messages. The first mention that dopplegangers connected to the Watcher case are after Frank. The second informs him that the Sandman, Francine, has woken up. The final one, dated a n hour ago, says they were going to the house in Yesler Terrace.

Sorenson calls Shaw back. “I’m so sorry I got so wrapped up in what I was doing.”

Shaw, crouched behind an old table in a grimy abandoned kitchen turns the phone on speaker. Her voice sounds distant. “Hey Sorenson. I’ve got to handle a flame thrower, we’ve got incoming Sandmen.”

“I’m sorry I missed your call,” Sorenson says. “I got so busy investigating why there are cement trucks filling in the basement.”

Shaw seems to ignore his comments. “Yeah we’ve got like eight sandmen closing on our position here at the house. We are in the kitchen.”

Sorenson begins to hurry to his car. “I’m on my way right now.”

“Thanks. Bring fire.”

He grabs a bottle of liquor stored in his filing cabinet.

“You guys are going to be okay?” he says leaving the building at a run. “You are in a safe spot? I’ll try to create a distraction.”

He hears Mill say, “that would be nice.”

Sorenson jumps in his car and drives off as fast as he can safely manage.

The House, Yesler Terrace, November 24th, 11:23 PM

The three investigators wait for the attack, backed up against a wall of cabinets with a table in place in front of them as a barricade. Shaw watches the back door, her flame thrower at the ready. Dr. Ilyes is beside her watching the winodws. Robert Mill is on his left, scanning the room. Both have their pistols out.

Suddenly Mill sees door opposite the back door open. A pair of Sandmen enter, their pale corpse like forms drifting silently in. Mill points his guns at them, drawing Ilyes’s attention. But the doctor is unable to see them!

Ilyes waits instead for something to shoot at. As they charge Mill and him they become visible and he fires at point blank, putting a hole through its jaw. The thing pulls itself over the table and grabs him. As they struggle the other one grabs Mill. As it vaults the table, Mill fires back shouting “Die!”

A bullet perforates its head and a second shot causes a grunt of pain as it smashes through its gut.

Shaw sweeps the room and other entrances for more of them. She spots a third one entering via the same door and turns the flame thrower on it. As the flames burst across the room and up its dry dusty flesh, it screams in agony. It turns and flees, trailing flames behind it.

Ilyes fires again into the one grappling him as its mouth opens disturbingly wide. It seems to be trying to suck something from him. Mill fires into his again. clouds of dust erupt from its back as it topples back onto the floor. Shaw turns the flames on the one grappling Ilyes. The flame lap over it. Ilyes flinches back as the flames lick his arm. He kicks the creature off of him and it topples back onto the floor. As the doctor beats the fire out on his arm, the Sandmen crawl away out of the room to safety.

As they catch their breath, Shaw sweeps the room and the others check their ammunition.

“Guys, we want to keep holding here or do we want to make a break for it?” Shaw asks.

“I think the next wave could be heavier,” Ilyes opinions. “I think we should pull back.”

“Where do we want to pull back to?” Mill asks.

“Well our car is on the front street,” Shaw responds, as sounds of the things echo through the house.

The House, Yesler Terrace, November 24th, 11:25 PM

The voice returns. “Leave the doll and I’ll let you go.”

“So the front door?” Mill says to the others.

“Yes,” Shaw says.

Mill takes point while Shaw covers their retreat. They take the door the sandmen came through. From their rough map it should lead toward the front door. They enter a long room with a crumbling fireplace. A rotten rung in the center of the room is covered in soot from the fleeing Sandmen. A door to their right should lead down to a basement. An archway at the far end of the room should lead to the front door though.

They push forward and run into an out of breath Dr. Sorenson carrying a gun and a bottle of liquor. “I got here as fast as I could.”

“Alright take point,” Shaw instructs.

“Let’s get out of here,” Mill agrees.

“What’s going on?” Sorenson asks.

“We’re getting out of here man.”

“Did you see them out front?” Shaw asks as they begin to move again.

“No it was all clear. But I wasn’t taking the drugs,” Sorenson warns.

“If we get pinned down we’ll give you some drugs but for now let’s try to escape,” Mill says.

“Alright.”

As they reach the front door, the see three Sandmen waiting for them. Then Mill sees Sorenson grabbing for doll. He steps back and says, “Doppelganger!”

He shoots ‘Sorenson’ and his disguise fades away, revealing a slight Sandman dressed in a dark cloak. The female figure reaches for the doll, trying to pull it off him.

Just then the real Dr. Sorenson pulls up in front of the house. He can make out hazy figures in front of the house as well as distant sounding gunshots. He pulls his car around and drives toward the house. He skips over the curb and crashes into the Sandmen. One is crushed against the house while another lands on his hood. He isn’t sure where the third went.

Inside Mill shoots the lead Sandmen again, this time in the hand. She is forced to let the doll go. He fires again wounding her grievously. The Silent One flees deeper into the house, chased by Ilyes’s gunfire. A shot hits her knee as she hobbles out of sight.

Shaw meanwhile turns the flamethrower on the Sandman on the hood of Sorenson’s car. It screams and blackens as it scratches feebly at the windshield. Sorenson pulls the car back, running over something in the process. He sees a crushes Sandman turn to dust as he pulls out. The one on the hood falls off, still burning.

Sorenson grabs his guns and gets out.

Mill meanwhile pursues the Silent One intot he back fo the house. He corners it and unloads his pistols into it. The creature riddled with bullets, slumps against the wall.

It looks up with its empty eyes. “Its. My. Dollie.” Then she collapses into dust.

Everywhere in the city Sandmen begin to scream, stunned by the death of their master. Ilyes takes the opportunity to kill the one burning outside. It instantly turns to dust. Shaw covers their escape as they pull out of the house.

Sorenson meets them on the porch as Mill catches up with them.

“What the hell is going on here?” Sorenson asks.

“We’re getting out of here man,” Mill explains. “Who knows what is going on.”

“Think there are more back in the kitchen,” Shaw says. “What did you shoot back there?”

“I think I killed the little girl,” Mill says. “I think. I think it may have been her doll.”

“I want to check two things, you guys hold here.” Shaw goes back to the kitchen. Three sandmen are there still screaming but one retreats as she approaches. The others soon back away.

She checks the door they passed on her way back. There are stairs leading down. She returns to the others and relays her findings. They decide to stay and investigate.

The House, Yesler Terrace, November 24th, 11:30 PM

“What brought you here? What made you come back?” Sorenson asks as they mill about by the front door.

“Okay let’s go,” Shaw says. “We can talk about it later. Next time return my calls. I didn’t hear any screaming from up above. Hopefully the body is still there. Let’s check downstairs first. Its the only place we haven’t been.”

They head down into the cellar. Small windows near the ceiling are covered with dirt, leaving only their flashlights for illumination. The first room is a decaying pantry with two doors leading off of it. The shelves are filled with old cans and jars of fruits. One of the doors leads to a closet filled with boxes of Christmas ornaments. The other door leads to another storage room in the center of which is a child’s bed.

With nothing else to find they go upstairs. They check out the corpse. Ilyes examines the blackened mummified form. He determines it was the body of a very old man. There are no obvious signs of trauma and he might have passed away from natural causes or illness. It looks like he was naturally mummified by the dryness of the room. He is wearing a gold wedding ring and the few knickknacks in the room suggest this was his bedroom.

“This could be Westergard,” Shaw says.

“Let’s get this body ready for transport,” Ilyes directs.

They wrap the body up and leave the house. As they look back they find it easier to focus on the building as if whatever hid it was weaker or fading.

“We don’t think she’ll come back, Dr. Ilyes?” Shaw asks.

“I can’t say for sure but usually things don’t come back after they disintegrate. Usually.”

“I may have acted hastily in killing her,” Robert Mill mutters.

Dr. Ilyes’s house, Bellevue, Seattle, November 25th 1 AM

As Ilyes prepares for the autopsy, Robert Mill gives his own theory for what happened. That the father (Mr. Westergard, the corpse) mistreated the little girl and she died. She then came back as a Sandman but that she always loved her doll and was drawn to it.

The others are not so sure. They wonder if there isn’t a deeper explanation, something to tied in Ambrose Grant.

“Maybe there is something else here,” Shaw says. “Maybe there are ley lines or something. I want to consulate with someone.”

The autopsy results confirm their suspicions. The man was in his 70s and was mummified over several decades. This would fit with him being Mr. Westergard and would indicate he died in the 1960s after the final mention of him the census. He seems to have died of natural causes and what remains of his brain shows no sign of damage from Sandmen.

Ilyes puts down his tools. “Let’s start the process of putting this guy to rest. We will need a cover story Shaw.”

“What conditions would you need to create a mummy like this?” she asks.

“Time, dryness, neglect.”

Late November

Shaw references her research on local tunnels and finds a sealed tunnel that should be a reasonable place for body to mummify. She reports the discovery of the body to the Seattle PD. She claims they were investigating the area when they came across the corpse in a sealed tunnel.

Jack seems dubious and she gets some flack for her actions. But it passes and Westergard is finally buried.

The house itself seems to be more and more visible to “normal” people. They still seem to forget about it though.

More disturbingly, there is a fifth Watcher murder on the 26th of November. This one is in Lake Union, not far from where Shaw lives. When Shaw checks her security around that time, she spots Jarette Costa waving at them.

Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, November 27th

The investigators discuss their next step.

“We don’t have leads at this point,” Robert Mill points out. “Do we?”

“Jarette Costa is in prison,” Dr. Ilyes says.

The others point out a doppelganger copy of him still out there and they are not sure what he is after. Nor how this is connected to the house.

“I was watching ghost chasers on the History channel last night,” Dr. Trevor Sorenson says.

Shaw snorts. “Really?”

He continues on. “They have this devices to read magnetic fields and cold spots. Maybe there is some weak point in the fabric of reality here. If we had the right tool we might be able to detect it.”

Ilyes points out, “a little more plausible than weak reality is that we haven’t found all the psychic equipment in the area from Ambrose. Backup systems, redundant systems.”

They decide to ask Infinity if she has learned anything from the tapes. A short while after their message a file appears on Mill’s computer titled “Initial Findings.” It discuss her discovery of two intelligences operating within the system, imposing their will on the dreams of the inhabitants of Ashwood Heights. There are other transient minds but those seem to be lucid dreamers. The first intelligence, “user 1”, is almost always present and is likely Ambrose Grant. The other “user 2” is a mystery. It is someone else knows how to run the dream machine and who has been present since the beginning. This entity was also heavily monitoring Jarette Costa’s dreams.

“That makes some sense,” Shaw says reading over the file.

This “user 2” was adept at using the device and manipulating human psychology. Infinity concludes it possesses a high intelligence and speculates that it has other means of accessing the minds of people.

“Could it have been the girl?” Shaw muses.

Ilyes suggests that they might look for other possible holdings by Ambrose or for missing buildings or blind spots in the area. They start searching but don’t find much in that direction. They contact Keystone Pharmaceuticals about Ambrose but are told he is no longer available. Shaw cross references the data they have with Frank’s files but again comes up empty.

They decide to focus on the person they know is involved: Jarette Costa.

“It is like he was sent to clean up after the people investigating the house,” Shaw says. “It is interesting he went after Frank first. Why did he go after Frank?”

Mill muses Frank is the only, outside of themselves, who is connected to it in any way. “Georgia is a vegetable and Ken is out of state.”

“But Frank was never involved with the house or the apartment building,” Shaw points out. “This mind, or user 2, has been connected to it for a long long time but it was something else that Frank did that threatened it.”

“Well he was involved with Ambrose Grant,” he suggests.

“But it went after Frank first. We were looking for Ambrose but Frank never went to his old place. He went to the hospital and was grabbed.” She turns to Sorenson. “Doctor do you think talking to Frank could help?”

Dr. Sorenson nods. “There may be something in the light of what we learned that we can ask. Now that we know the right questions we might be able to jog his memory.”

“We need him to make him make the right connections before anyone else dies.”

The Brooks Residence, Ballard, November 29th

Dr. Sorenson sits down with Frank as the others look on. He explains the situation to the older detective.

“What could it want from me?” Frank says. “I don’t know why it would be after me. I mean from what you said it is coming after me specifically.”

Sorenson nods. “You are not the normal victim type. You are the anomaly in the pattern. There must be a reason he strayed from his normal behavior.”

“Right,” Franks says nodding. “And we think Costa is being directed by someone? Because I never met Costa.”

“Well perhaps there was something you stumbled upon that is linked to Costa. Now that you have recovered it now sees you as a threat,” Sorenson suggests.

“I barely remember anything from back then,” he says shaking his head. “Whatever did this, they took so much of my memory. I mean if they just wanted me to forget Ambrose or something why didn’t they just take those memories?”

“Maybe they couldn’t do it so selectively,” the psychologist suggests. “They just caused a lot of brain damage and hope it got what they wanted or killed you.”

“Yeah,” he says grimly. “But I do remember some things from back then. Maybe I remember something. Maybe there is something I know that it doesn’t want me to.”

“Maybe its something you don’t even realize is significant.”

Frank holds his head trying to remember. “Right.”

“We just have to find a way to trigger the memory.”

“Maybe Frank met user 2,” Shaw suggests.

Frank seizes on that. “That could be. That would make sense. If I knew who user 2 was and if it wanted to remain hidden.”

“You might not have realized it was user 2,”she says, “but you might have met him in your investigations.”

“What about the other victims?” Sorenson asks.

“Well the other victims sound like targets of opportunity,” Frank says. “Maybe the copy isn’t completely under user 2’s control.”

“But they might also be part of a pattern,” the psychologist contemplates. “You might not be the only anomaly. Maybe the one behind this is trying to eliminate others as well.”

Mill voices his opinion that the other murders might be Costa being the serial killer he is. If there is a reason behind them it is entirely Costa’s doing.

Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, November 30th

The investigators begin to profile Jarette Costa. Shaw obtains the crime reports and Dr. Sorenson leads the analysis. Using the dream records as well they quickly create a profile. Deep down Jarette desires to hurt women but his rational for why he does these horrible things is that he believes he is helping them see the world as it is. He gets at his victims with a charming facade. He is very persuasive and good at getting people to drop their guard around him. However if that facade is seen through, he will become very upset and fixate on that person tot he exclusion of all else.

Sorenson slowly works his way into the mindset of Costa. Clearly Frank is not part of his plan, if anything Robert Mill is more likely to be fixated on. The move to Lake Union only makes sense if he saw Shaw. That suggest he is still murdering to open people’s eyes. Going after Frank is like some outside compulsion.

The doctor looks over Costa’s mad ramblings and the recording of his dreams. The same phrases keep coming up: “God-Machine”, “turning gears”, “tower in sky”, and “dreams came first.” He realizes Costa dreamed of doing murder before doing committing the acts. He also dreamed of a machine in the sky. Then he say in the real world. The dream machine wasn’t the machine he saw. It was just a little piece of a much larger machine. A terminal.

He looks out a window. A translucent tower of gears floats above Seattle. “What the hell is that thing?”

Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, November 30th, 5 PM

They discuss findings of the psychological profile. Sorenson seems very agitated. as he paces back and forth, he hears a clicking noise from somewhere in the room.

“What’s the matter Sorenson?” Shaw asks.

“I thought I heard something.” He tilts his head. The noise is coming from Mill‘s bag. "Its coming from your bag. You don’t have a stopwatch going in there?"

“I have a creepy doll in here,” Robert says.

Sorenson ponders that. “That’s something we never thought about. How does this doll fit into this equation? Maybe this doll is a symbol for something else. At its core is something else.”

Mill agrees the doll may be important. Sorenson suggests they take look at it. “But first I want to say that I think Costa was on to something. He uncovered something which caused him to snap. That is when he began his murders. Not that he could open other people eyes but that something opened his eyes. He uncovered some hidden truth. Not sure what this is.”

Shaw however is unconvinced. She asks him, “Are you sure?”

“Well I can speculate,” he says nervously. “You can’t take anything at face value but he felt there was some great technological machine that was controlling and manipulating the world.”

She nods. “Yeah, he said something like that in my interview.”

Mill points out the coma patients at the Hillcrest Mental Health Center may also be connected, while Ilyes tells them a conspiracy theory about wireless communications run directly into the brain, controlled out of the Echelon 4 facility. Trevor suggests this could be a government agency working to control or eliminate paranormal activity.

He concludes with, “I don’t support any one of these theories but we have encountered some pretty crazy stuff.”

Ilyes concurs, “Stands to reason if one was to harness the Tulpa phenomena one would have a limitless army of assassins.”

“What do we think the doll have to do with it?” Shaw asks.

“It is tied to this machine,” Sorenson says. “Like a lost key.”

“Well were looking for some missed remnant from the cases. Something to explain the continuing murders.” She turns to Mill. “Can we take a look at it?”

Mill reluctantly hands it over. On the outside it looks like a well preserved turn of the cnetury doll. But Sorenson can hear a noise from around the doll and faintly see a set of gears extending from it like an umbilical.

“There could be an electromagnetic connection to this machine, tying the doll to it,” he opinions.

Ilyes seems confused. “So you are saying there may be some electronics inside of the doll. If we cut it open we’d find transistors?”

“I don’t want you to cut it open,” Mill says quickly.

“I’m thinking more symbolically,” Sorenson explains. “Not a machine but something paranormal. The words I’m using to describe this thing-”

“Make you sound like a crazy person,” Ilyes says.

“I can think of only technological terms to describe it. It may be some paranormal phenomena that we currently lack the science to describe yet.”

“So Clark’s law,” Ilyes concludes.

Shaw asks Mill, “have you been seeing anything weird in your dreams?”

Mill tells them he has been sleeping pretty well and doesn’t rememebr any dreams while he had the doll with him.

“Either it is shielding you from something or else it is shielding your dreams and the ability to recall them,” Sorenson theorizes.

Shaw ask Dr. Sorenson, “could you hypnotize him and ask him if he recalls his dreams?”

“I don’t have a lot of experience with that but I can try. There aren’t a lot of ways to get at it.”

Mill is supportive of this plan. “They did it in the X-files all the time.”


Dr. Sorenson induces a light trance in Mill.

“How have you been sleeping lately?” Sorenson asks.

“I’ve been sleeping pretty good,” Mill calmly replies.

“Do you remember your last dream you had?”

“I’m not supposed to remember that,” he tells them.

“Have you had any nightmares recently?”

“No.”

“No dreams you recall what so ever?” Sorenson asks again.

“I’m not supposed to remember the dreams,” he says.

Sorenson bewildered. “That’s unusual. Most people remember at least fragments of their dreams. Are you sure you don’t remember a little bit?”

“I make sure not to remember them.”

“Why would you not want to remember the dreams?” the psychiatrist asks.

“I’m not supposed to remember the dreams. It told me too.”

“Who told you not to remember the dreams? What is keeping you from remembering?”

“The doll,” Mill states.

“Is the doll doing this protect you or to harm you?”

Mill is evasive. “The doll is my friend.”

“Protecting you?”

“Dreams can harm me,” he tells them.

“They can keep you from getting a good night sleep sometimes,” Sorenson admits.

“There are truths in the dreams,” Mill hints.

“Well-yes.”

“What truths?” Shaw asks.

“I’m not supposed to remember what the truths are,” Mill says.

Sorenson resumes the interrogation. “Why do you think the doll is trying to shield you from the truth?”

“Because the secret will open the door,” Mill says cryptically.

“The door to what?”

“I’m not suppose to remember,” he says.

“A literal door or a symbolic door?”

“I’m not sure there is a difference,” he tells them.

“Where is this door? It is impotent for you to remember or you will be a slave to this doll,” Sorenson cajoles.

Mill tells them, “the doll holds the answer. The doll holds the secret. She put the secret in the doll.”

Sorenson decides they have enough information for now. “When you wake up from this trance you will give the doll to Ilyes so he can lead the investigation of what is inside it.”

But when Mill awakens he refuses to give over the doll.

Dr. Sorenson tries to reason with him. “From talking to you in a more lucid state, you seem to be very protective of this doll which also seems very protective of you. It is protecting you but at the same time it is keeping you from seeing the truth. It is not protecting you from outside forces but something in your mind. It could be like a drug addiction, a mental compulsion. I’m just asking you let us investigate it, delicately together.”

The argument continues. The other point out that the examination won’t hurt the doll. Shaw plays back the tapes of Mill’s session.

“It does seem very odd,” Mill admits. He even admits he is obsessed with the doll. But still he refuses to part with it. “I may not be thinking properly but it does seem to protect me. Maybe we could try to sleep experiments and see how far the effect extends.”

“But is it protecting you or its own interests?” Sorenson asks.

“I admit I might be acting irrationally but I don’t want you to take the doll,” Mill tells them.

“We won’t take it permanently we just want to run some tests on it,” Ilyes says. “You can be present.”

Shaw points out that the serial killer is still out there. They need to act soon.Eventually they wear Mill down and preform some external testing.

Bellevue, Washington, November 30th, 7 PM

Using the clinic after hours as well as some equipment borrowed from the university, the conduct an examination of the doll. The results are baffling. An X-rays shows the interior to be empty as if it were hollow. Yet is has mass and feel consistent with being filled with some granular material. There are no electromagnetic emissions and less radioactivity than would be expected. Its heat signature is normal as is a chemical analysis of the outer layer. An ultrasound skips over the interior as if the inside was a vacuum.

“Can I have doll back?” Mill asks.

Dr. Ilyes is at his wits end. “Yeah. Dr. Sorenson let’s confer.”

Shaw and Mill talk while the doctors are out of the room.

“How you feel about that?” Shaw asks.

“What do you mean?”

“You seem pretty concerned about the doll,” she explains.

“I just feel nervous,” he says. “Like they are going to hurt the doll.”

Shaw points out how irrationally he has been acting, like he is addicted to this doll or being controlled. “I’d like to think you could stop if you needed to.”

Elsewhere, Ilyes tells Dr. Sorenson, “It’s more inert than it should be.”

“Like there is some kind of shielding?” Sorenson says.

They talk about what it might be but eventually Ilyes says, “I just want to cut open this doll and find out what is in there.”

“I agree but I don’t really want him to be freaked out,” Sorenson says referring to Mill.

Ilyes takes a stern tone with the psychologist. “You are the psychologist and you are dealing with a nigh psychotic patient. Tranquilize him.”

“I feel violating his trust like that would be wrong,” he says. But he reluctantly agrees. “Lives are at stake.”


The doctors return with some coffee. As they drink Mill asks, “so we are going to try my plan with the dreams?”

Dr. Sorenson nods. “Yes, I think that is the next step.”

The doctors ramble on about the plans as Mill grows increasingly tired. He slumps back in his seat and passes out.

Shaw shouts at them, “What the hell?”

Ilyes tries to explain. “He’s alright but he’s under the influence of a paranormal entity.”

“What do you mean? You didn’t think he would give it up?” she asks, shoked and dismayed by their behavior.

Trevor leans up against a wall shaking. “Its just a sleeping drug. I -I can’t believe I did that. Its just something to put him under so he wouldn’t be so obsessive about the doll. We need to see what is inside.”

“Are you okay?” Shaw asks.

Dr. Ilyes tells them their findings. “It puts out no radioactivity. X-rays and Ultrasound show nothing. According to everything I’ve been reading there is nothing inside that doll yet it still has mass.”

“Not even empty space,” Sorenson adds. “There is nothing inside.”

“So you guys want to cut it open?” Shaw asks.

Ilyes is unapologetic. “Yes. We want to understand what this is.”

“You really need to talk to him about that,” Shaw lectures them.

“He was not acting rationally,” Sorenson tells them.

Shaw objects. “I know that but-”

Ilyes interrupts her. “He was acting in a manner consistent with supernatural compulsion.”

“There are lives at stake,” Sorenson says.

Shaw sighs. “He is stronger than that, he deserves to make that choice for himself.”

The argument continues several more minutes about the morality of what happened. Dr. Sorneons is of the opinion that an intervention was necessary and not everything can be solved with words. Shaw disapproves.

“Let’s just stop talking and figure this shit out,” Shaw says.


Dr. Ilyes carefully cuts open the doll, opening it up along a seam. As it opens up they can see it is filled with bright multicolored dust. It resembles a day glow version what they found inside the Sandmen.

A little bit of dust wafts out and each of them has a flash of memory. Shaw remebers being Frank on the case of tracking down a deadbeat husband who is having an affair. Ilyes rembers being a child in the 1950s who encounters a Sandman. Trevor remembers being a workman at the construction site for the Ashwood Heights apartment complex.

“What is all this equipment we are putting in the basement? It is like some strange science fiction stuff down there,” he recalls saying to the foreman. Then a Sandmen appears.

Mill meanwhile has a dream. He is journeying through his dreams. He travels past his own dreams, then past the dreams of hundreds of other people. He keeps going until he is standing in front oa blazingly bright thing in the middle of the dreams. It is a symbol he can’t quite focus on but he knows it is a key. The idea of it is lodged in his head. He also realizes there is a second key and someone is using it now.

“Well that’s an interesting psychogenic property,” Ilyes says. He takes a sample and sews the doll back up.

“I thought I was Frank there for a second,” Shaw says. “What about you guys?”

“I remember someone being assaulted by a sandman,” Ilyes says.

Sorenson concurs. “Maybe these are the stolen memories that the Sandmen have stuffed into this doll.”

Ilyes nods. “If I hadn’t experienced all of this I would say you were deeply deluded, but I have.”

“A year ago I would have committed myself,” Sorenson says.


Mill wakes up with the doll in his hands. “I’m sorry I just nodded off there.”

“Possibly an effect from the hypnotic session,” Ilyes suggest.

Mill tells them about his dream as best he can. “It may have been what the doll was trying to keep me from remembering. There is this key.” He concentrates. “I can’t quite articulate it but there is this key that goes to this door. But the important thing is that there is a second key being used out there right now.”

Dr. Sorenson he no longer hears the ticking from the doll or sees the ghostly umbilical. But does hear gear noises coming from Mill’s head while he concentrates.

“It sounds like you are experiencing the unlocking of a repressed memory,” Ilyes suggests.

“I think a short nap in the proximity of the doll might have unlocked the dream,” Sorenson says.

Mill agrees. “Yeah so my plan worked out. Though I still can’t quite remember it, like it is slipping away like a dream.”

Ilyes says, “well let’s try some sleep studies at distance from the doll and we will monitor you.”

Hillcrest Mental Health Center, November 31st, 2 AM

The investigators conduct the sleep study that night. Mill sleeps and they move the doll varying distances to see the effect on his dreams and vitals. Dr. Ilyes watches him and records the data, while Shaw and Dr. Sorenson wait in the surveillance room, keeping an eye out for trouble.

The doll does not seem to be having same effect. It is diminished, weakened.

Mill dreams of the House and the Silent One. She threatens him harshly, “You took my dolly. You took my secret. This isn’t over. I’m not gone. I will come back. I will take the secret from your mind.”

In the surviellance room, Shaw spots a suspiciously blurry janitor in the hall downstairs. “Sorenson, this janitor looks blurry to me. Its him.”

“We can’t let him get out of here,” Sorenson says. They quickly form a plan to surround him.

They relay this to Ilyes. “Do you want me to revive Mill? He is one of our most effective combatants.”

“Yes, wake him up,” Sorenson says as he heads for the far stairwell.

“I’ll track him through the video feeds,” Shaw says standing in the door to the surveillance room. She glances at the video feeds and see the man heading up the nearby stairwell. “I think he is coming up here. Wake him up.”

Mill continues to dream. The Silent One advances on him, continuing to threaten him, “I will eat your memories. I’ll devour everything there was of you. I will track down those you love and I will eat them too.”

He wakes up to Ilyes shaking him. The doctor tells him, “We’ve got a situation here.”

For a moment Mill sees a Sandman behind him. Then he blinks and it disappears.

“Jarette Costa is in the building,” Ilyes says.

“He is in the building?” Mill says sitting up.

“He is coming this way.”

“Is Isabel here?” Mill says shaking the sleep from his head.

Ilyes shakes his head. “Not as far as I know.”

Elsewhere Dr. Sorenson runs down the far stairwell and across the downstairs hallway. He sneaks up the other stairwell and finds himself behind the serial killer. Before he can enter the floor, Sorenson tackles him, driving him to the grounds. Shaw standing in the hall runs over and helps hold him down. With her help, Sorenson is able to pin him to ground for a moment.

Then Jarette Costa breaks the hold and tries to bring a box cutter to bear on the doctor.

In the examination room, Mill grabs his guns and moves out into the hall with Ilyes.

Shaw wrenches Costa’s arm and knocks the box cutter down the stairs. She gives him a kick and disarms him of the bottle of bleach in his other hand. Sorenson smacks Costa’s head into the concrete but only angers him. Costa kicks him into a wall.

Sorenson quickly shakes it off. “Is that all you got!”

Mills tries to help hold Costa down, but suddenly he seems to gain superhuman strength. Dr. Sorenson is thrown down the stairs while the others spill out into the hallway.

Ilyes rushes forward in the moment of distraction with a syringe. “You are going to feel a small jabbing sensation don’t worry.”

He injects Costa with a tranquilizer. The serial killer teeters for a moment. “I have to. I have to show the truth. I must get the doll back. No. No I’m not human. This won’t work on me.”

He shrugs off the drug’s effects and knocks Ilyes away. “I’ve moved beyond such limits.”

Mill quick draws his guns and riddles Costa with bullets. The killer shudders as cracks run up and out of his wounds.

“No. I. I saw the gears,” as his amrs crumbles and falls off.

“We know about the God-Machine,” Ilyes says.

“Do you know? There is another key,” the sociopath says as a deep crack runs up and across his face.

“Where is the other key?”

“He’s coming. he will kill more than me.” Then Costa shatters and disintegrates.

December

As the month passes, the killings stop. According to V.I. there no doppelgangers in the city and the Sandmen have become easy to knock off. Jarette Costa is tried and sent to prison for life.

The analysis of the dust from the doll is just as inconclusive as that from the Sandmen. They seem to be the same is every way but color at least as science can yet divine.

And occasionally Mill can see something drifting in sky.

View
Means and Motive, Part I

Seattle, Autumn 2010

One of a Kind Investigations has done well in the past few months, despite being stiffed for resolving the brain spider infestation. In Seattle, thing were made grimmer by a third murder of a young woman in September. Like the others her eyelids were cut off. The culprit, a serial killer dubbed the Watcher by the press, was none other than Jarette Costa. The third murder however involved one of his neighbors and due to a stray finger print he was uncovered and arrested.

On a brighter note, Frank was released from the Hillcrest Mental Health Center, his mental composure, if not his memories, restored. He confides to Shaw that he is considering returning to the firm in the next year. Mill is somewhat cheered by this.

November 18th, 2 AM

The ringing phone wakes up Shaw. She snatches it from her nightstand and glances at the caller ID.

“Frank?” she says sleepily.

The older detective’s voice quavers. “Shaw. Shaw I … T think I killed someone.”

“What?” she says, pulling herself out of bed.

“There was an intruder,” Frank says quietly.

“You need me over right now?”

“Yes,” he says pleadingly.

Shaw pulls on some clothes. “Alright I’ll be over there as fast as I can.”

Ballard, Seattle, 2:30 AM

Shaw pulls up in front of the house. Through the downstairs windows she can see Frank pacing. She glances around as she steps out of the car. Several of the neighbors are also up. She walk up the path to the front door. She spots a broken window into kitchen on her way up.

She finds Mavis sitting in the room with Frank. Frank rushes over to her.

“I’m glad you came,” he says excitedly, gesturing to the kitchen. “Someone broke in the window over here.”

“Tell me what happened,” Shaw asks him.

“Well I heard this noise. I came down to investigate and there was this man here.” Frank gives her the best description he can, a man of medium build and height with dark hair. I couldn’t see who, it was dark."

“He came at me with a knife,” he continues showing her the slices on his hand. “I fended him off and shot him. I saw him fall but when I called you he was there.” He points to the corner of the room where a lamp has been knocked over. “But he is not there anymore.”

Shaw crouches where he pointed and looks more closely. The carpet here is scuffed up but there is no blood or signs that the shots went wide. To her practiced eye she sees the fight started in the kitchen with the attacker slicing at Frank. some flecks of blood decorated the entrance way between the kitchen and the living room. He must have been hiding near the refrigerator. Eerily she finds three bullets, deformed by hitting something yielding like ballistics gel or flesh. They also have no blood on them. A window in the kitchen was broken from the outside.

She quizzes Mavis. She only heard what happened. They were awakened by the window being broken. when Frank went downstairs, she heard a scuffle and shouting followed by gunshots. She came down later, by which point the body was gone.

Shaw goes outside to look at how the intruder entered. She spots a police car making its way down the street. Before it arrives she finds a crude club and some footprints. She snaps some pictures of the footprints and the officer. Once sure he isn’t a doppelganger, she intercepts him.

“Do you live here?” the cop asks.

“No. Lillian Shaw,” she says showing him her P.I. license. “I was called to help my friends. I’m sure they will give you a statement. You are here on a call from the neighbors?”

The officer recognizes the name. “Yes. They heard gunshots.”

Shaw gives him a brief description of the events. “But my friend can give you a better report.”

The cop takes down statements and puts out a report of burglary attempt. He tells dispatch the culprit may have possible gunshot wounds. After he leaves, Frank and Mavis go to check into a hotel for night. Shaw stays and stakes out the house to see if the perpetrator returns.

Ballard, Seattle, 7 AM

That morning Lillian Shaw canvases Frank’s neighborhood. Recalling the name she spied on the police report, she first visits Timothy Smith, the original caller. The old man answers the door and Shaw interviews him.

“Yes, I heard these gunshots in the middle of the night,” he explains. “I called the police. Somebody might have been hurt.”

Shaw jots down some notes. “I understand. The gunshots woke you up?”

“Yes.”

“Did you happen to look out your window and see anything?” she inquires.

“I looked out but I didn’t see anything,” the white haired man says.

“I don’t suppose you have any insomniacs in the neighborhood?” Shaw asks, hoping for a lead.

Tim shakes his wrinkled head. “Not that I know of, no.”

“Well if you hear anything or see anything, please let me know.” She gives him her card and heads to the next house.

Around 9 AM, she calls Mill at the office.

“Hey what’s up?” he answers.

“I’ve had a long night. I’m probably not going to be in nor will Mavis. Someone tried to break into Frank’s place.”

“Oh? Really? Is he okay?” he asks with concern.

“Yes. He got a slight cut from a knife.” Shaw fills Mill in on the details including the odd bullets.

“Bullet proof vest? Or weird thing?” Robert asks.

“Didn’t look like a vest. I have to get some sleep. Frank’s replacing the window. I’m going to finish talking to the neighbors and then get some sleep until the afternoon. Can you hold down the fort and handle the calls?”

“Sure. Get some sleep and all.”

Shaw visits one last house. Unfortunately the woman living there, Jillian Waters didn’t see anything either. She explains she already told the police everything she knew.

Shaw asks about police officers, worried there might be something funny about them. “I don’t what to bother you too much but did you see anything suspicious?”

“No,” she explains.

Shaw gives out another card. “If you don’t want to bother the police with something, please bother me.”

Office of One of a Kind Investigations

Robert Mill has a busy day at the office, fielding calls while Erin Bartram tries to cover their investigations. Aroudn non he gets an instant message on his computer. From a program he never installed.

It is from Infinity. ‘Interested in negotiating for those tapes.’

He writes back, ‘I would need to talk to Shaw, she’s not here right now. :)’

Lightning quick comes the response, ‘Let me know what you decide.’

‘Will do. How should I contact you?’

‘Message me.’

‘Sounds good. Talk to you later.’

Logging off, he texts Shaw, ‘Infinity wants to negotiate for the tapes. What do you want to do?’

Office of One of a Kind Investigations, 4 PM

Shaw heads to the office as soon as she sees Mill‘s text. On the way over she mulls over the mystery of the tapes. Mill’s friends at the university were able to break the encryption but not make sense of it. The data itself was incomprehensible, mixing brain wave recordings with sophisticated computer code. They needed Ambrose Grant or someone with vast resources like the Chieron Group. People she wasn’t willing to trust. Just in case she had Mill make digital copies. Dr. Trevor Sorenson had made sure they were securely hidden.

At the office, Shaw discusses their next step with Mill.

“I don’t know If I trust Infinity,” Robert says. “I guess I want to make sure she doesn’t harm anybody with it. Other than that I guess I don’t care that much. As long as doesn’t create an army of cyborg men or whatever the heck she is.”

Shaw mummers agreement. “Who knows. She is weird. From what we can tell it is the recording of the brains of the people in that apartment. Besides the fact there was a serial killer there and Sandmen, I don’t see that there is anything weird on the recording on itself.”

Talk turns to what could be on the tapes. Mill suggests it might hold an encryption key.

“What kind of computer could have an encryption key with anything to do with people’s brains?” Shaw asks.

“It might not be just a computer thing. It might be something psychic.”

Shaw points out that even if it is, there are no instructions for building a new machine. Nothing she could use a code on. “Unless she wants to use this information to make new serial killers.”

Mill paces, worried. “It does concern me, computers taking over the world and all that stuff.”

Shaw holds up her cellphone. “I kind of love technology. Its one of the few ways I can sleep at night, taking pictures of my room.”

Mill takes his boss’s admission in stride. He suggests destroying the tapes but acknowledges it is irrational. “I’m very like being paranoid. As you take pictures of your room, I come up with conspiracy theories. Events have changed my outlook.”

Shaw remains bothered by her instinctive dislike of Infinity. Now it seems so unlike her. Mill points out she does constantly spy on them.

“No,” Shaw explains, “she’s a bitch but that’s not why.”

“Well she does have a dataport in the back of her head. She’s a cyborg.”

“You really think she’s a cyborg? I thought she was just weird.”

Mill suggests talking to the The Men in Black but Shaw decides against it. She doesn’t want them to be aware of her if they are not already. Mill however is unsure what he knows or believes.

“That break in at Frank’s was pretty weird,” Shaw says, turning to their other problem. “I kind of want to put up some cameras at his house in case anyone comes around. He seemed pretty sure he hit the thing but there was no blood. That in itself is weird. I think it would be good for Frank at least if we had a record of it.”

“That makes sense to install security there,” Mill agrees. “We’ve gotten good at it.”

They decide to give her tapes in exchange for the money and any information she finds pertaining to the apartment complex or the serial killer.

Infinity gets back to them quickly. ‘Will transfer the funds immediately. Given how our meeting went last time, I will arrange for a neutral party to pick up the tapes. You can meet him at the old office at midnight in 2 days.’

Ballard, Seattle, November 19th

Robert Mill installs security cameras around the Brooks residence. He hooks up some live feeds and begins the watch.

Ballard, Seattle, November 20th, 10 PM

As Shaw watches the feed from the cameras, she notices a police car pass by. Soon after Frank calls her up.

The old detective sounds worried. “The police are here, I mean on the street. Apparently there’s been a murder.”

Shaw jumps out of her seat. “I’ll be over, I’ll call Mill.”

She calls Robert Mill on her way out. She explains the situation.

“There’s been a murder you say?” he says.

“Yeah, somewhere in the neighborhood. I didn’t see anything on the feeds except the police cars. I’m going to head over there. Maybe our cameras are not set up right.”

“Do you want me to come by as well?”

Shaw puts on a coat as she holds the phone to her ear. “Its up to you. It pretty late. Maybe you can keep an eye on the feed on my way over.”

Back at his office, Mill brings the feed up on a second monitor and goes back to playing WoW.


On Frank’s street, an ambulance idles in front of a house down the street. Several police officers are cordoning off Julia’s house, keeping back the growing crowd. Shaw slips in among them and listens to their conversations. The locals are worried but seem to be in the dark about what happened.

The detective pushes through the crowd and flashes her P.I. badge to the sergeant in charge. He recognizes her and takes her aside. From him she learns that Julia is dead and that a friend of hers found her body after she had missed their dinner date.

“Suicide?” Shaw asks.

The cop looks around and whispers, “I think it is another victim of that serial killer. Her eyes were sliced open.”

“I thought they got the guy?”

“I thought so too. I sure hope its not a copycat.”

“Who is handling that case?” she asks, knowing the answer.

“Um, Jack,” the sergeant says uncomfortably. “He should be here soon.”

Shaw quizzes the cop for some more details. The police have yet to find signs of forced entry, which fits the Jarette Costa’s MO. They estimate she died a couple hours ago.

“A friend of mine had a break in a couple nights ago,” Shaw confides. “We set up a camera feed. I didn’t see anything but you are welcome to a copy.”

“Thanks,” he tells her.

“Can you get me a copy of the ME report later?” she asks in return.

“Sure,” he says, happy for some possible lead.

Shaw steps away and texts Mill. ‘Same MO as that serial killer they caught. No sign of break in.’

‘Doppelganger?’ she gets back form from him.

She quickly types out another message. ‘We don’t know what it looks like. Could be a copycat.’

She then asks Mill to make copy and search the video during the time period about 2 hours ago.

About an hour later Mill gets back to her. ‘Blurry figure. 7:35 PM. Lingering strangely.’

Right afterward, she gets a picture. The man in the photo is oddly blurry, dressed in a uniform of some sort and wearing a baseball cap. She walks over to where he was standing. There is nothing there but he was obviously watching Frank’s house. While she waits for Lt. Jack Lawrence, she shows the picture to Frank.

“Could be the same person,” he tells her.

Eventually the Lieutenant arrives. Shaw intercepts him as he leaves the crime scene. “Hey I know you’ve got your hands full here but Frank just lives a few doors down.”

“Yeah, I saw that,” he says he pushes his way to his car.

“He had a break in a couple nights ago,” she tells him.

“I know I was just reading the report on way over.”

“Well we had camera pointed at the street,” she points out.

“Yeah, the Sergeant told me.”

“We’ll burn a copy. I’ll bring it by the station tomorrow.”

“Thanks.”

She shows him the picture they retrieved. “You think this is the same guy?”

“Maybe, maybe not. But it is worth a look.”

Ballard, Seattle, November 20th, 12 PM

Lillian Shaw spend the night catching up on the serial killer case. There were three murders in August and September attributed to “the Watcher”, as the press dubbed him. Jarette Costa was apprehended in October after evidence at the 3rd member exposed him. His MO was to gain access to a woman’s house by impersonating a repair person. He would then subdue them, then torture and kill them in their own home. At some point he would slices their eyes open while they were still alive.

The victims were all white women in their ages 20s to early 30s white women. They were also all brunettes. Shaw notes grimly that she fits his type. This fourth victim, Julia, also fit the profile. She lived alone in a house like the first two victims. The third victim, the one that led to his arrest, lived down the hall from him. Except for her there was no connection between the victims. The murders did show signs of acceleration as well as a sense they were becoming more polished with time. As for motivation, whatever justifications he used he seems to have been a sexual predator.

Jarette himself is currently in custody. Based on a partial print they were able to get a warrent for his apartment and found several uniforms for repair companies as well as a set of knives. Looking over the shots of the blades, she decides they are similar to the one used on Frank. His mug shots seem crisp though. He isn’t a Tulpa.

Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, November 21st

Shaw and Mill discuss Jarette Costa.

“Strange that he would kill someone in his own apartment,” Mill says, leaning back in his chair.

“Not really,” Shaw explains. “She was probably the first one he fixated on. The other two victims before her were likely the build up to her. Not that he would have stopped if they hadn’t caught him.” She explains that serial killers are not as in control as they believe they are.

“But how can we be sure he did kill the first two given he didn’t kill the fourth?” he asks, idly tapping at his keyboard.

Shaw muses, “I assume they have some evidence they haven’t released yet.” She has Mill look up the judge who issued the search warrant. Mill brings up Dennis Smith. Shaw recollects, he isn’t the hardest judge to get a warrant from.

Mill throws out another idea. “The other conceivable theory is that he was being controlled by somebody.”

“That’s possible,” she concedes.

“So do we want to follow this up?” Mill taps his pen. “We aren’t getting paid for it.”

“Well even if we are not, cracking this case will help the image of the firm. And Frank seemed to think this guy could be the one who attacked him in his home.”

“Maybe we should ask him if it was Jarette Costa,” Mill points out. “What should I do next?”

“I’m not sure why this guy is after Frank but maybe you should put some more cameras up. I am concerned about him.”

Ballard, Seattle, November 21st, 10 AM

The sky is cloudy and a gentle mist descends as Robert sets up cameras around Frank’s house.

A man from electric company pulls up in front of the house. He gets out and approaches Mill. “Where’s the meter?”

Robert looks down from his work at a gutter. The man’s cap obscures his features. “Yeah, let me show you?”

Robert leads him around back. The man seems pretty familiar. Robert decides to play for time. He shows him the box. “Just doing a little work myself here, so don’t mind me.”

But as Robert backs away, the man’s eyes are already wary. He reaches for his belt. He pulls a screwdriver in a fluid motion and stabs it into Mill’s shoulder.

Robert stumbles towardss the front yard, shouting for help. Jarette Costa follows him stabbing at him repeatedly. Mill tries to dodge but Jarette is too fast. By the time he reaches the front yard he is bleeding from several wounds.

“You have your eyes closed. You don’t see it. You don’t see it!” the mad man shouts at him as he stabs again.

“Aagh!” Robert shouts as Frank burst out the front door, gun drawn. The old detective shoots, striking the serial killer in the gut. The hole smolders but no blood leaks out.

Jarrette charges Frank and stabs him in the shoulder.

The pressure off him, Robert lurches to his feet and pulls both his pistols. He shoots the killer in the back while Frank fires again at close range.

Jarrette shudders. “This is not…”

Then he falls over and shatters into rapidly disintegrating chunks. In the end nothing is left.

“Dude the guy-oh wait are you okay Frank?” Robert asks.

“I’m okay, you look pretty bad,” Frank says looking at the bloody mess from his stabbings. “Get in here, I’ve got a first aid kit.”

“Okay let’s call Shaw and…probably go to the hospital again.”

Downtown, Seattle, November 21st, 10 AM

Lillian Shaw sets down the pictures and digital recordings on the table in front of her. “This case took an interesting turn.”

Jack Lawrence looks up at her. “Yeah I was hoping this was all in the past.”

“You sure you have the right guy?” she asks sitting down across from him.

Jack sighs and leans back in his chair. “I am sure we have the person who did the first three murders. I don’t know who did the last one. Must be a copy cat.”

“What evidence do you have for the first two?” Shaw probes.

“We had some hair samples from the first murder. We didn’t have any hard forensic evidence from the second but the hair is his,” he emphasizes.

“Did he confess?”

“Yes.”

“What did he have to say? Did he have an accomplice?” she queries.

“I don’t think he has an accomplice,” he snorts. “I think he’s a freaking wackjob.”

“Well what do you call this?” she says pointing to the still she brought with her.

Jack studies the photographs. “These are really out of focus.”

“No its just him,” she says. “He was watching the house. How does the time stamp jive with the time of death.”

“It would just enough time for him to kill her,” he says considering it. “This is probably our guy.”

As Jack looks over the evidence, Shaw’s phone rings. She tells him, “Mill is setting up more cameras, mind if I take this?”

“Sure.”

Shaw talks into her phone. “Hey Mill what’s up.”

“Aagh,” grimaces Robert Mill. “Frank and I have been stabbed. Ow. But we may have — are we on speaker again?”

She hears Frank’s voice. “We killed him again.”

“No you are not on speaker,” she explains. “Are you at Frank’s house?”

“Yes,” Robert tells her. He quickly relays what just happened.

As he describes Jarette Costa’s disintegration, Shaw asks, “You got that on camera?”

“Presumably. We should have a good view of everything.”

“Shot’s fired?” she asks.

“Yeah 4 or 5 shots fired,” Mill sighs. “The cops are probably coming as we speak.”

Shaw takes a more sympathetic tone. “Are you okay?”

“No,” he tells her. “Frank was also stabbed.”

Again Frank interjects. “I’m okay.”

“Lawrence and I will be over soon. I’ll make sure an ambulance is on its way.”

“Sounds good. Ow.”

Shaw hangs up and Jack asks, “shots fired?”

“Yeah, looks like Frank and Mill got into it with your guy. Sounds like he’s down or something. They’ve got it on camera but Mill is injured.”

Jack makes some calls and an ambulance and two squad cars are soon on their way.

Ballard, Seattle, November 21st, 10:30 AM

Lt. Lawrence and Shaw arrive as the police are taking Mill and Frank’s statements.

“This guy came in, he looked like an electrician,” Mill tells the officer. “He asked where the fuse box was. So I led him around back. I was a little suspicious given everything that had been going on. I figured I’d keep an eye on him. But when we got back there he attacked me. He pulled a screwdriver and started stabbing me with it. I ran around front and Frank over there who is an ex-cop burst out to save me. He shot the guy who then turned on him with the screw driver. Whereupon I was able to draw my weapons and shoot him as well. I don’t know what happened after that I was in panic and bleeding profusely.”

“That’s enough for now,” the man says, patting him gently. “We’ll talk to you later when you have been recovered.”

A pair of medics whisked Mill to the hospital. Shaw and Jack approach Frank to see what he knows.

“Why does he keep coming?” Shaw mutters after getting Frank’s report.

They check the cameras. The incident is shown clearly, except for the attacker who is blurry in every shot. After he is shot down, he collapses into the front doorway of the house. He is enveloped in a cloud of white fuzziness. When it clears he is gone.

Jack stares at it in disbelief. “How’s is that even possible? I guess. I guess he had some sort of jamming device and he must have escaped in the confusion.”

Shaw nods and looks at a text from Mill. ‘It was Jarette Costa’

She shows it to Jack.

“It can’t be Costa,” he sputters. “I visited him yesterday. He’s in a cell right now.”

“Well I’d like to talk to this guy but maybe he’s got a twin or some shit,” she tells him.

“He doesn’t have a twin.”

“Well do you have a better explanation?” she taunts.

“Mill might be confused,” Jack says.

The two discuss other possibilities. In the end Shaw tells him, “Well I’d like to hear what Costa has to say.”

Jack concedes. “I’ll set something up.”

Kevin Ilyes’s house, Bellevue, Washington, 11 AM

Ilyes blearily walks down to the kitchen, rubbing his eyes from lack of sleep. He turns on the news as he brews some coffee. The newscaster discuss another Watcher murder but is drowned out but the roar of the blender as Ilyes makes a protein shake.

He turns off the blender but the noise continues. Puzzled, he realizes he is hearing screaming and has been for some time. The wailing noise seems to be emanating from the basement but somehow he had forgotten it.

He ventures downstairs and finds the Sandman, Francine screaming.

Dr. Ilyes hurriedly calls Shaw.

“Hey doctor?” she answers.

He talks loudly over the screaming. “You know that case from several months ago where we were dealing with the Sand people?”

“Yeah?” she says wondering at the volume of his voice and the odd static on his line. “You know I can’t really hear you that well but yes.”

“Well yeah,” he hesitates as the screaming continues. “One of the specimens is back up and around.” Francine begins a particularly loud set of shrieks. “So if you can get back over here that would be good.”

“Uh, okay,” she says confused. “I’m actually helping the police right now on the Watcher murders.”

“Its not super urgent but uh,” he says trying to collect his thoughts over the din. “I definitely would like your assistance. When you can get over here. I’ll try to hold down the fort. When you can come over. Uh, okay. I’ll talk to you soon.”

After hanging up Dr. Ilyes decides to record the creature’s screams. But his attempts only pick up some odd static. He decides to try talking to it.

“Hello Francine.”

She continues to scream.

“Do you remember where you are?”

She remains unresponsive. He checks her vitals which continue to show her to be dead. He Decides to gag her and deftly avoids being bitten.

As he steps back, he worries that she might be calling something to her. He sets a rudimentary security system to alert him if someone enters the room. Then he checks his gun and hangs out on the roof of his house.

Kevin Ilyes’s house, Bellevue, Washington, 2 PM

Dr. Ilyesgets off his roof as Shaw pulls up. He tells her what happened while leading her to the basement. “The corpse or zombie called Francine has reanimated and is screaming constantly.”

“Why?” she asks.

“That’s a very good question,” he says. “However I don’t want to let her out of her restraints to see what she’ll do.”

“Any ideas of where we should go from here?”

“Well, I don’t know how to treat her,” he points out.

“You don’t suppose she can call or summon others?” Shaw asks.

“That’s what I’m worried about,” he says pacing around the basement. “There are two ways we can go: we can destroy her utterly or we could try taking the risk of letting her go and seeing where she goes to.”

Shaw suggests they might ask V.I. for help instead.

“We could arrange a transfer,” Ilyes suggests. “I’d happy to get it off of my hands.”

“Let me get in touch with VI.”

With that decides talk turns to the creature’s abilities. Shaw mentions the odd static on Ilyes’s phone line.

“I noticed that phenomenon,” he explains. “I wasn’t able to get a recording.”

“What do you mean?” she asks confused.

“Audio recording are not able to pick up sound from her.”

“Interesting.” Shaw changes the subject. “I have been working on the serial killer case.”

She describes the details including everything up to today.

“Its like the Tulpas,” Ilyes says.


Later Shaw calls V.I.. The monster hunter is happy to take Francine and arranges to pick it up that night. In return Shaw asks for information on the serial killings. V.I. knows a little bit about things like that but nothing immediately helpful.

“Any idea about why he was cutting the eyelids off of his victims?” Shaw asks.

“Well there was the rant he had written in his journal. The cops hushed it up and its probably just his madness, but he claimed to be showing people the truth, opening their eyes.”

“I try to get a look at this journal,” she says. She also asks about the Tulpas activity. She is worried Jarette might be a powerful psychic himself.

V.I. disagrees. “From what I’ve seen he’s a reasonably mundane person.” "

Could someone be using him as a puppet?"

“Could be. Maybe there’s some weird wizard behind the scenes.”

She asks him to look into his history as well as any other Tulpas in the city.

“Well there have been a few of them running around,” V.I. tells her. “They seem normal. I’ve been investigating it a bit. They have been down by City Hall infiltrating the city government.”

“Tulpas in City Hall,” she says nervously. “Any connection to the apartment building?”

He thinks for a minute. “No. I’ll look into Jarette.” Then he hangs up.

Harborview Medical Center, Yesler Terrace, Seattle, 2 PM

After being patched up, Mill goes looking for Katherine Greenberg. He corners the neurologist in a hallway. “Have you and your sister been doing any further work on the drugs she developed?”

“Oh, no,” she says shaking her head. “I think she might be doing more work for the company. But she tells me she has forgotten how to do most of the work.”

“Can she get me some more of the drugs?”

“I’ll give her a call,” she says hesitantly.

As he walsk back to his room, he gets text from Shaw: ‘giving Francine to VI. He says there have been Tulpas in City hall. And I’m meeting Jarette costa face to face. wish me luck. How are you feeling?’

He texts back. ‘Good. Good as you feel after being stabbed three times.’

County Jail, 4PM

Shaw checks her phone again. Dr. Sorenson still hasn’t responded to any of her calls. As she waits for Jarette Costa, she looks over his journal again. It written in tight cursive, mixed with sketches of women and an assortment of gears. Several phrases are underlined: ‘the gears are turning’ and ‘I must reveal the truth’ being the most common.

Jack Lawrence collects her and guides her to the interview room. Jarette is handcuffed to the table in his orange jumpsuit as they enter the room.

Jarette looks up at them with a grin. “Hey Jack. Jack’s friend. What’s the occasion?”

Jack starts the interview by asking him if he knows anything about new murders.

“Wouldn’t really know,” he says mirthfully. “Stuck in here.”

“What about your friend?” Shaw asks.

“Friend? Who’s she talking about Jack?”

“That’s what I’d like to know,” he says frustratedly. He asks the supposed murders about any accomplices. Jarette denies anything of the sort.

“Did you ever pose as an electrician when getting close to the girls?” Shaw asks, leaning over the table.

“Yes once,” he admits with a smile.

“You still have the suit?”

“This is the only suit I got,” he laughs.

“I meant at your place.”

“I don’t know. You confescate my wardrobe?” he asks Jack.

“We have his clothes,” Jack tells her. “Including the suit.”

They ask but Jarette denies having a second suit.

“Costa why do you keep talking to Jack?” Shaw ask. “You don’t want to explain things to me?”

For the first time Costa seems uncomfortable. “I’ve been cooped up so long I’ve become antisocial,” he explains.

“Real hard I guess,” she says. “Almost two months. What are you doing to pass the time?”

“I’ve been reading.”

“Anything good?”

“Catcher in the Rye,” he says.

“Took a while to get through that one,” she snidely remarks.

Angrily Costa lists off some more books he has read recently.

Shaw turns the conversation to how he picked the girls. Costa claims it was random.

“There must be some reason they needed to be shown the truth,” she says.

“I don’t want to play pop psychologist,” he says sourly.

“I’ve just been reading what you writing.” She fishes out his journal. “Or did you just include this to put in your best seller.”

“That’s a good idea,” he says before leaning closer. “It all started in my dreams.” He explains he could do anything there, anywhere with anyone. He tells her how he saw machines in his dreams and then later in real life. The dreams just showed him the way.

“The machines were there,” he says looking off at a wall. “The machine in the sky. I had to make people see.”

“You sure no one else had those dreams?” she asks.

“Maybe they did,” he admits, “but they didn’t do anything about it. I seized the opportunity.”

“Did you see the girls in your dreams?”

A creepy smile crosses his face. “Yeah.”

“Before or after you saw them in the flesh?”

“Before,” he says furtively.

“What do the gears do?” Shaw asks. “Now that you’ve got an audience.”

Costa however seems unsure. He doesn’t claim to know exactly what they do but suspects the machine run everything. “There are machines in the walls that make our dreams go. There are machines in the sky that make the world go.”

Shaw changes tactics. She pushes a picture of Julia in front of him. “Did you see her in your dreams?”

“Never seen her before,” he says. “She’s pretty.”

“Well you know your story is getting shaking here. This pretty girl here had her eyelids cut off the other day. Maybe you are not the real killer.”

Her insinuation infuriates him. She adds a few more quips about the fickleness of the media and he flips out. He starts to rattle off more details about the first three murders. “I killed them and I killed them in their dreams. It was me, not this copycat. I’m the real killer.”

As he continues with his tirade, Shaw asks, “You’ve been having anymore dreams lately?”

The fury goes out of him. “No, not since I came here.”

She looks at Jack to indicate they are done here. As they leave she tells Costa, “give me a call if you want to talk more.”

The old office of One of a Kind Investigations, Downtown, Seattle, Midnight

Mill and Shaw wait for Infinity’s agent to arrive. She supplied a rough description of an attractive African American man.

A black muscle car pulls up. Hesitantly, an effeminate man gets out of the car. His asian features mix with his choclate skin to give him an exotic look. He walks up to them.

“So I’m here to pick up the tapes,” he says uncertainly.

Shaw points to the pile of ancient magnetic reels. “What’s your name?”

“Gabriel.”

“Nice to meet you Gabriel,” she extends her hand. “Lillian.”

They shake but Mill seems to remember him from somewhere. Suddenly he recalls a TV show from his childhood. He looks just like Twice Vince from ‘Twice Vince in Beverley hills.’ It was a Fresh Prince knock off that ended when the star was killed.

Mill walks up to him. “Hey wait. Are you? Was your father or brother on that show?”

Gabriel seems off balance. “Uh I had a cousin on a TV show,” he lies.

“Yeah you are a dead ringer for that guy,” Mill says, now sure of himself.

“I get that a lot,” he says trying to blow it off. “So those are the tapes?”

“Yeah,” Shaw repeats.

“Let me load those up.”

“Are you a computer programmer too?” Shaw asks.

“No, I’m just a friend.”

He quickly loads up the car with Shaw’s help. All the while he keeps glancing at Mill.

“Well thanks,” he says closing the trunk. “Any message for me to give her?”

“No,” Shaw tells him. “Thanks.”

After Gabriel drives off, Mill hurried tells Shaw about Gabriel’s connection to Twice Vince.

“What show is this?” she asks.

“Twice Vince in Beverly Hills,” he says digging his keys out of his pocket.

She frowns. “Wasn’t that 20 years ago, late 80s.”

“Early 90s,” he corrects her, walking to his car.

She follows him. “Whatever, I wasn’t really a fan. But that can’t be the guy.”

Mill is adamant about tailing him and Shaw offers to help despite her reservations. They manage to catch him on the highway and tail him south out of the city. After an hour he pulls off highway into a small town. Mill is behind him when he runs through intersection just as the street light turns from green to red. He pulls up short and calls Shaw.

“I think he made me and I think he may have the ability to control streetlights.” He relays his give location and Shaw tries to intercept him.

Shaw tails Gabriel for an hour, getting close to the Oregon border. Shaw asks Mill over the phone, “How long are you we going to keep this up?”

“I don’t know,” he says.

Gabriel pulls off the highway again, into a rest area. Mill pulls into rest area with him while Shaw goes on down the highway. He finds two identical cars next to each other. With the darkness and their tinted windows, he can’t tell which one Gabriel is in. Then both cars leave in opposite directions.

“He may have done a switcheroo on me,” Mill relays. “There are two identical cars here. I’m going to follow one going south.”

But as he slowly leaves he spots a third black mustang entering the rest area. He changes his mind and follows that one. It stops near some trees and Gabriel jumps inside. Cautiously he follows it south to Portland. There it leaves the highway and drives up to an apartment building downtown. Gabriel gets out alone and goes inside. Mill parks his car and goes inside but there is no sign of him. He notes down the location however before driving home.

Shaw meanwhile trails the car heading north. After a bit it turns east into mountains. She gets a text an hour later. ‘Would you please stop following me.’

Shaw forwards it to Mill. She adds, “Is this really worth it?”

“I guess not at this point,” he admits.

“Would you mind sending her a text or a chat apologizing for this?”

“Sure.”

Shaw lets the car go and texts Infinity: ‘Sorry fan boy.’

Infinity replies. ‘sigh.’

Bellevue, Washington, Night of November 21st to the morning of the 22nd

Ilyes has difficulty sleeping, even with Francine gone. He wakes up thinking on someone else is in the room with him, talking to him. He sets up some sound recorders as well as an EVP recorder, just in case.

In the morning, he blearily listens to the tapes. For the most part they are quiet. There is the sound of the occasional car passing or his snoring. But every so often he mumbles in his sleep. “The doll, where’s the doll. Where. The. Doll, where.”

Creeped out, he turns on the EVP recordings. A quiet voice keeps repeating, “where is the doll, Ilyes? Where is the doll? I’ll help you get your position back just tell me where the doll is. Tell me where the doll is. I don’t have to kill you if you tell me where the doll is.”

He leaves note on his bed: To the ghost haunting me, please specify doll. He includes a catalog of American Heritage dolls.

Then he calls Mill. “Hey there.”

“How’s it going?” Mill says tiredly.

“I had a question about that doll you had.”

“Sure.”

“Where did you find it?”

“In the weird house by Ashwood Heights.”

“Alright. When you get the chance I’ve got some electronic voice recording you might want to hear.”

“Of course.”

Office of One of a Kind Investigations, Downtown, 12 PM

Robert Mill listens to recordings of the child-like voice. “I can give you power or steal you mind.”

“This guy is good cop and bad cop,” he quips.

“I don’t know why it decided to go after me rather than you,” Dr. Ilyes says, “but what can you tell me about the house where you got it?”

Mill muses as to the reason. “Don’t tell anyone but I do sleep with the doll so that may have something to do with it.”

Mill fills Ilyes in on the Westergard house as well as the finding of the doll in the first place. He mentions Infinity was also interested in the doll but that he thinks the doll protects him.

“Maybe we should get people together and do another investigation of the house,” Ilyes suggests. “Let’s prepare for Sandmen.”

Mill mentions that he was already trying to get more drugs to protect them. In fact he has to go meet with Amelia for lunch.

Downtown, 1 PM

Robert Mill and Amelia Greenberg meet at a nice restaurant. They chit chat for a bit. Mill fills her in on what has been happening with him while she explains she has been doing okay despite the ill will at work. Keystone Pharmaceuticals has her working on reproducing her drugs. she is finding the work hard to replicate. The details keep slipping away.

Mill asks about the different varieties. She starts with Static, which has seen some limited progress. It stimulate a person’s psychic powers to drive off creatures with mind reading powers. She does warn him there is some chance of minor brain damage. The drug she has had the most progress with is Telapathine, which opens a person’s mind to telepathic signals. They can read minds but also unconsciously send out their own thoughts out. The most frustrating one has been the next stage of BSNX. Her version worked on different principles than the older versions. It actually uses natural psychic abilities to block illusion and mind effecting powers.

“This is big favor but would it be possible to get some of this stuff?” Robert asks. He tells her of the company’s plans. Mill asks for BSNX as a priority.

“I can try to sneak some out,” she says.


Later that day, Amelia’s sister Katherine comes by the office with a package. “Amelia says you might need this”

Inside the paper bag are two doses of Static and six doses of BSNX-9.

“Thank you so much,” Mill tells her.

“She had this hidden away,” Katherine explains.

“This will be very useful. That was a risk that she took.”

Evening of November 22nd through to the 24th

Ilyes fills in Shaw about the plan. She is intrigued by the voices. “The reason I ask is that my interview with Costa revealed he was having dreams in which he saw his victims faces before he meant them. And he lived right next to the house you want to investigate. He also said in his dreams he saw spinning gears like Sorenson’s coma patients. You think they might have been hearing that voice as well?”

“The coma patients?” the doctor asks.

“At the sanatarium,” Shaw says. She fills him in on the incident last spring where the coma patients all began to repeat the words “the gears are turning.”

“You mean like the machine in the apartment complex?” Ilyes asks.

“Possibly. He also mentioned a machine in the sky but I have no idea where that is coming from. That was the reason he was cutting the eyeslids off those women.”

Ilyes shrugs. “I don’t really know what is happening here. But I think the wisest course of action is to return to the environment where this doll came which is the house.”

“What are you expecting to see?” she asks.

“I. Don’t. Know,” he repeats to her. “Sample EVP recordings, photos, some history. I want to see what happened in the house. Journals. Photographs.”

“We didn’t explore everything, only the upper floors,” Shaw offers helpfully. “There was the dead body.”

“Oh a dead body!” he exclaims. “Just lying in a house without any last rites of anything. Oh jeez that doesn’t sound like every horror movie that I’ve ever seen! Nothing ever happens if you leave someones body in a creepy old house. I’m sorry.”

“It seemed like a good idea,” Mill says.

Shaw decides to get the team a flame thrower and calls in their favor with V.I. for one. They spend an evening practicing burning targets without damaging their surroundings.

Ilyes meanwhile prepares some mobile EVP equipment. Finally they stakeout the house for a day, learning the movements of the Sandmen and doppelgangers around it.

The House, Yesler Terrace, November 24th, 11 PM

Before heading out Shaw fires the team’s moral up to help resist any mind control. Shaw and Ilyes also inject themselves with samples of BSNX-9. Everything goes a bit rainbow. Aura surround every living thing and they feel very free.

“This is a little different from the other batch,” Shaw remarks, a bit giddy despite their plans.

They approach the house. It wavers like a mirage until they push past the illusion on the stone steps. The front porch is still ravaged from Vito’s grenade blast. The windows are empty and the front door is blown inward.

Inside they find the house quiet, the dusty floor revealing their previous movements as the last signs of passage.

“The dead body is upstairs but do we want to check the downstairs first?” Shaw asks. “We didn’t see any papers of books upstairs.”

Ilyes speaks up. “Well we’re just trying to find out what happened here before we came here.”

They decide to explore the ground floor. Proceed right from the foyer and stairs, they enter a long barren room. A chair and picture faded to blankness comprise the decor. A door in the back leads to what might have been a bedroom. Shaw records their passage on her phone while Ilyes runs his EVP equipment. A door on the right side of the room leads to a kitchen.

The decaying room holds an old ice box and a wood burning stove. Everything is caked in dust and grime. A pot left out from decades past is filled with what can best described as dirt.

Ilyes equipment begins to record something. A voice can be heard. “You’ve brought me the doll.”

Shaw sweeps the room with her phone. There is nothing there.

“Leave the doll,” the voice says.

“What’s going on here?” Mill says. “Who is this? What’s happening?”

“Leave the doll and I’ll let you live.”

“Who are you?” he demands.

“I am the Silent One. Leave the doll now and my followers won’t destroy you. There are less of you this time.”

“Oh your followers, I see.”

Shaw looks out the back windows and sees an approaching swarm of Sandmen.

Mill uses a text message to communicate with the others. ‘what should we do?’

Shaw types, ‘Your call.’

Ilyes adds, ‘You are the combat experts: fight or flight?’

‘Burn them all down’ is Mill’s response.

They build a choke point at the back door and seal off the one of the other two entrances with the ice box. They use the kitchen table as a barricade.

And they wait.

View
Competitive Intelligences, Part II

Seattle, Friday September 10th, 7 AM

Shaw makes breakfast while the morning news plays on the TV. The flu outbreak competes with a second horrible murder for the headline. A woman was killed in her apartment. She had been brutally assaulted and her eyes slit open. As for the flu, that was Agent Gray’s cover story. Otherwise it was usual: horrible traffic and rain.

She heads to the office and a short while alter settles in at her desk. A call comes in from the Men in Black.

“One of my agents checked back at the Rock Box this morning,” Gray tells her. “We found a digital voice recorder in the lost and found. It seems like it is Amelia’s.” He explain they haven’t had time to analyze it yet. “This might be useful in tracking her down.”

“Definitely,” Shaw says. “Can you get me a recording of it?”

Gray says he can make one but it will be a little bit. She heads to the hospital to hear it herself.

Harborview Medical Center, Yesler Terrace, 9 AM

The hospital is packed with sick people and people who probably don’t need to be there. In the quarantine area, Mill hears rumors that the doctors are doing spinal taps on the patients.

Lillian Shaw drags Vito along. Agent Gray fills them in when they arrive. “We’ve only listen to about half the recording so far. It seems to be some sort of voice journal.”

“Makes sense,” Shaw says. “She was a scientist.”

He nods. “It seems to indicate she knows a lot more about the disease than we do.”

“Mind if I listen to the recordings?” she asks. Gray gestures to the chair by the agent doing the transcribing.

The investigators listen in. The current section is from three nights ago. She seems to in a quiet location discussing the effectiveness of batch 12 of the drug labeled Static. “Preliminary scan seems to indicate that the infestation has moved deeper into the brain. There is no decrease in IgE counts. Perhaps I need to up the dosage.”

There is a break and the noise of traffic can be heard. “I’ve had those dreams again of the woman. She keeps calling me her sister. I need to talk to Katherine about it. Maybe they are more signs of the hallucinations. I thought we’d licked that.”

“So she’s still in contact with her sister then,” Mill comments. “Did we know that?”

“Nope,” Shaw says, concentrating on the background noise. There are street noises on some of the recordings as well as the hum of a nearby highway. It could be the clubs. The other sections must be at her lab. But even there the highway can be heard in the distance as well as the occasional rumble of a large truck. It is likely in the Industrial District.

Shaw suggests that the Men in Black focus on finding what car she took after escaping Mill and Dr. Trevor Sorenson. Then they should concentrate their search for that vehicle in the Industrial District.

The investigators discuss talking to Katherine, perhaps starting softly but bringing in the Men in Black if she won’t cooperate.

“How are you? Are you okay?” Shaw asks Mill.

“I feel alright,” he lies, trying to ignore the itchiness and headache. “I feel fine.”

“You’ve been discharged?”

“No. I’m still under observation. If I have to go I’ll go though.”

Shaw however points out that Mill did try to kidnap her. He agrees he shouldn’t be part of their first attempt.

Elsewhere in Harborview Medical Center, 10 AM

Shaw finds a nurse who set up a meeting with Katherine. “Does she have an opening?”

“Umm, sure,” the woman asks. “May I ask what this about?”

“Yeah, its a family matter,” Shaw says sneaking a look at Katherine’s schedule. “Not a medical consult. I’ve been asked to find somebody.”

“Okay. how about 11:45?”

“Sure,” she says as she leans back. Katherine is fairly busy today but there is nothing odd about her schedule.

Returning to Agent Gray, she finds they have found footage of Amelia entering a parking lot and leaving in a small blue car. As the begin to comb the Industrial District, Shaw checks out who the car belongs to: a woman named Melisa Jones. She lives near Amelia’s house and works Downtown as a graphic designer.

Shaw decides to set up a meeting.

“Hello?” Mellisa says as she picks up the phone.

“Hello Ms. Jones,” Shaw says.

“Who is this?”

“My name is Lillian Shaw. I’m assisting in a police investigation I believe you have information that might help. Is it all possible for us to meet with you? I know your time is valuable but it should only take a few moments.”

Ms. Jones hesitates but says, “I suppose I could take a short break.”

“Excellent, I’ll be there in a half hour?”

“Okay.”

Shaw heads out but sets Vito to watch Katherine.

Downtown, 10:45 AM

“Thank you meeting me, Ms. Jones,” Shaw says as sits down in the lounge area for the company Ms. Jones works for.

“No problem,” the thin dark haired woman says, joining her.

Shaw describes Mellisa’s car as well as the recent sighting of it by the clubs. “Were you driving the car last evening?”

“No…I lent it to a friend.”

“Oh I see. Can you give me the name of this friend?”

Mellisa stammers for a moment before revealing that her friend, Amelia, is trying to avoid her ex-boyfriend. That was why she borrowed the car, so he wouldn’t recognize it.

“Do you know if she filed a report with the police?” Shaw asks, already knowing why she was really running.

“I assume she did,” Mellisa says.

“This is in regards to a disturbance at a club last night. Someone came after a young woman, we believe it was your friend.”

“Oh no, he must have found her,” she says wringing her hands.

“Do you know where she is staying right now?” Shaw asks calmly. “Her name did not come up in our searches.”

“I don’t know. Maybe her sister would know.”

“Okay. When was the last time you spoke with her?”

“It must have been almost too weeks ago.”

Shaw gets Amelia’s phone number. “Thank you so much. You’ve been a big help, I don’t want to take up anymore of your time. Here’s my card in case you hear anything.”

Harborview Medical Center, 11:45 AM

Robert Mill returns yp his room. Already the local anesthetic is wearing off and the pain from the spinal tap is making itself known. Also he can see that the those with the illness are being moved to one end of the hall. His end.

His new roommate is young man with orange hair. Despite his healthy skin, he looks bad off. He tosses and turns in his sleep. A click happens each time he moves his arm, handcuffed to the bed as he is. He begins to mumble in his sleep, “little girl..little girl, she needs help.”

He shifts his position as Mill leans in to list. “The dark haired woman…”


Meanwhile, Lillian Shaw and Vittorio Vitacelli go to talk to Katherine Greenberg. They meet the blond haired woman in a break room.

“So what is this about?” she asks as she fidgets in her hospital scrubs.

“We are very concerned about what is going on in the city,” Shaw explains. “You’ve heard the public announcements about the flu.”

“Yeah, there have been a lot of people coming in,” Katherine says tiredly.

“Yes. My agency is under contract to do the research on this. We were surprised when it led back to you. When was the last time you spoke to your sister?”

“I haven’t seen her in a month,” she lies.

Shaw presses on. “We have a voice recording of hers stating that she has been in contact with you and intending to to contact you as recently as two days ago.”

“I’m not sure what you mean,” Katherine says nervously. “My sister she went missing, she disappeared. She wasn’t well the last time I saw her.”

“It is because of her research right?” Shaw asks.

Katherine passes in the room. “I guess. She was doing something very top secret. I really don’t know the details of it.”

“But you did help her with the hallucination side effects,” Shaw says breaking her down. “Neurology is your area of expertise?”

It takes Katherine a moment to respond. “You have to understand she’s not safe,” she pleads.

“Neither are all the people you see coming in,” Shaw says testily. “This is a matter of public safety and you’ve taken an oath doctor!”

Katherine takes a deep breath. “We thought we could cure it. You’re saying she’s responsible for the patients?”

“She’s certainly been spreading it.”

“I really haven’t seen her much in the last couple weeks,” she admits.

Vito interjects, “When was the last time you talked to her if you haven’t seen her?”

“We’ve been communicating via email,” she explains, sitting down.

Vito looms over her. “And the last email you got from her was when?”

“I got one a week ago.”

“Nothing later than that?” he asks.

“No,” she says looking up at him.

“You sure?”

“Yes.”

“What did she say in that email?” Vito says. Shaw gives him a look and he shuts up.

Katherine composes herself. “I’m not really sure where to begin but I can tell you where her lab is.”

“That would help,” Shaw says calmly.

She gives them the address. It is in the Industrial District.

“That fits with what we know,” Shaw says.

“We were making progress to curing it,” Katherine explains. “Amelia devised these drugs that removed the infection from sections of her brain. We had hoped we would be able to remove them from it entirely. I was worried about the effects the drugs were having on her mind however.”

“How was she exposed?”

“She contracted it at work,” she explains. “There was some accidental contact and the parasites got into her. She knew if she stayed there they would experiment on her. So she came to me and we studied it. We tried to find a cure.”

“Do you have any samples?” Shaw asks.

“Not on me but I have some back in my office.”

“We’ll have to confiscate those,” Shaw says nodding to Vito.

“May I have your office keys please?” he says to Katherine. “Anything I should know before I go in there?”

“There’s a file,” she tells him, “its on a flash drive. It should be the top right drawer. It has her research notes and our recordings of the radiation they were giving off.”

Vito whisper to Shaw as he leaves, “Gray can put on her on ice.”

Shaw ignores it and listens as Katherine continues her story. “I don’t really know how to describe it. They have a way to communicate remotely. We were able to record it. It is not electromagnetic or sonic but they give off this energy. My sister says they give off a psychic static. We built a device to record it and we able to use it to drive the infection from portions of her mind.”

Shaw cuts off her description of her research. “Do you know of anyone else who was infected, either accidentally or on purpose?”

“No,” the doctor says as Vito returns with the materials.

“Well I know you still have a long day ahead of you,” Shaw says. “Please make sure you are available at the end of your shift. Someone else will want to do a full interview with you.”

The two investigators return to the quarantine ward. Shaw calls Agent Gray and tells him to cut off Katherine’s phone and email access.


Agent Gray asks the investigators what they discovered.

Shaw fills him in. “It sounds like Amelia was infected in an accident at work. She sought her sister’s help in trying to cure herself. I have a possible location. We can cross reference it with the vehicle that your group has been tracking. If we can have an outside confirmation that this is an active spot then we may have a chance of capturing Amelia alive.”

An hour passes as the agents pour over traffic footage and the CDC doctors review the flash drive. They confirm the location and Gray outlines a plan to storm the building. They will use the cover story that this is a raid on a meth lab.

“We want to be extremely tactical about this,” Shaw warns him. “We don’t want to harm her or have her take her own life. I think in a lot of ways she’s victim of this as well. She has spiders in her brain and might not have control over herself when she infected these people. I think she’s a patient zero rather than a villain.”

“Be that at as it may, she’s also a danger,” Gray says.

“Just don’t go in guns blazing. There will be blow back.” Shaw urges him to try for a soft extraction. “I hope Vito will help with that.”

The plan is readied for later that afternoon.

Elsewhere in Harborview Medical Center, 1 PM

The young man with the orange hair tosses and turns in his sleep. “The Widow…”

Robert Mill deceides to wake him.

“What’s happening? What’s going on?” the man says as he comes to.

“Sir?” Mill says.

“What? Who are you?” he says confused.

“Are you having strange dreams?” Mill asks.

“Uh yeah,” he says wiping sleep from his eyes. “Why do you ask?”

“You were tossing in your sleep. I heard you saying something about a little girl and the widow?”

The man gives him an surprised look. “Yeah, there was this weird dream. There was this little blond hair girl, then she was this woman who called herself the widow.”

“If anyone comes around, don’t tell anyone, they will think you are crazy,” Mill advises. “They’ve got us trapped here. They think we are infected or something. I’ve been having similar dreams.”

“You’ve dreamed about a little girl?” he says with not a little suspicion.

“She says there are things whispering and that they are coming for us. Crazy ramblings like that. I don’t know what’s going on.”

“That’s sounds pretty crazy,” he agrees.

Mill asks him what the woman said. “She said they were coming for us. She didn’t say anything else. I can’t remember.”

Mill also asks where the Men in Black grabbed him. The man, who is called John, explains they grabbed from a club called the Havana.

“If you have anymore of these dreams let me know?” Mill requests.

“I guess,” John says without much conviction.

Industrial District, 4 PM

The teams assemble around the disused factory building. The three exits are each covered, waiting for the go signal. Shaw sits with Agent Gray in observation van. Vito stands at the back door with four other armed men.

The signal is given. With a loud bang, the back door is opened and a flash bang grenade is thrown in. The team is in moments later. They pass through a small dark room into a large central room lit by high windows. Computers and medical equipment sit on old tables in the room. The screens are still on.

“Spread out” Vito orders. Then he hears it, over the sounds of his men and the those at the front door, someone fleeing up the hall to the left. He informs the other team and throws another grenade up the corridor. Heading up the corridor, he finds Amelia Greenberg stunned on the floor. He zip ties her before she can recover. They hustle her out of the building and into a waiting van. She is sedated and whisked to Harborview Medical Center.

Shaw meanwhile joins other agents to look at labs. She calls Mill. “We got Amelia, they are bringing her to the hospital.”

“They are? Okay.”

“You might want to make sure they treat her appropriately,” she advises.

“Sure. Thanks for the call.”

As she looks over the lab she sees more of her experimental drugs. The computer has days of voice recordings on it. However there are no unusual spiders in evidence, just the lab, a cot, and a well used chalk board. As she looks closer at the chalkboard, she sees that some of the notes are in a different hand writing. Shaw snaps a picture. She also comes across a handdrawing of a woman with long dark hair. It reminds her of the picture Dr. Trevor Sorenson had Frank draw. She takes a picture of that too.

Harborview Medical Center, 4:30 PM

Amelia is wheeled up the hall sedated and handcuffed to a gurney. The CDc doctors converge on her as she enters the isolation room.

Vito watches as his charge vanishes. He spots Robert Mill down the hall and calls out, “Hey we got your girlfriend.”

Mill just sighs and returns to his room. He pulls out his phone and calls VI.

“Hey,” he answers.

“Hey, its me Mill.”

“What’s up?” the monster hunter says.

Mill glances out the hall. “I wanted to give you a status update. We’ve located the source of the problem you brought to my attention. Its some sort of weird brain spider thing. I’ve been infected so I’m stuck in the hospital right now.”

“Are you okay?” VI asks concerned.

“Maybe? They might be able to treat it, I’m not sure.” Mill sighs. “I don’t know if you heard about it but that incident in the club district was me.”

“Oh yeah. We did hear something about that. Oh and there was crazy drug bust cover up earlier today.”

“They just captured a woman named Amelia. She worked for Keystone.”

“Ah so they are involved,” VI says.

Mil voices his concerns. “The agents just brought her in. I’m a little worried they might hurt her in some way. Her sister works here in the hospital and had been helping her with this problem. I was wondering if you could let her know about Amelia.”

“Okay,” VI says.

“Also I’m not sure if Amelia is the original source of the problem,” Mill rambles. “Probably not. I’m not sure. But I’m a little concerned about the way things have recently been going that she may end up being harmed. Is there anything we can do?” Mill asks.

“Uh, well if the Men in Black already have her…it will be kind of hard for us to break her out,” VI admits. “If you have a plan I’m open to it.”

“Well right now I’m pretty stuck. I could try to break out but I don’t know how hard it will be.”

“Well we’ll talk to the sister,” he tells Mill.

“Alright. Thanks VI.”

Mill hangs up and looks over at John. The young man has dozed off again but looks pretty pale. As he mumbles in his sleep, Mill watches him closely.

Harborview Medical Center

Dr. Ilyes has been busy. At the morning meeting, the CDC doctors were able to show that the parasites transfered via saliva contact, such as a bite or kiss. The spiders enter the blood stream and migrate to the nasal passages and then into the skull. They hypothesize that the creature’s life cycle is roughly a few weeks. Once it reaches maturity they lay their eggs and transfer to a new host, though in some cases there is a different result. The spiders cannibalize eat other and devour the host’s brain. With this information they began to use a spinal fluid test to weed out which patients were still infected.

Then Amelia is wheeled in. Ilyes joins the others in the examination room. He is hopeful more can be learned. According to the reports she is the longest surviving person with the disease.

“While she might be one of the primary vectors, she might not be patient zero,” he cautions as they begin their tests. He turns to Agent Gray, “Do you want us to apply treatment before you interrogate her?”

“I leave it to your discretion.”

The MRI scan reveals larger than average spiders in her brain and not in the usual locations. These have been driven into her forebrain. They begin to take samples.

Outside, Vito passes in the hall, keeping an eye on things. Robert Mill is in his room. He notices John has gotten very still. Worried he looks closer and John takes a breath. Mill takes his pulse to be sure. It is very rapid. Mill tries to shake him awake. He calls for a doctor.

John’s eyes snap open.

“John, are you okay?” Mill asks.

“I’m fine,” he says flatly. He sits up. “I’m okay.”

Mill checks his pulse again.

“I’m fine,” John tells him.

Mill ignores him and goes into the hallway looking for a doctor. An older woman in scrubs comes over. As Mill turns to lead the doctor back into the room, they see John. He standing in door wielding the rail of the bed he was handcuffed to like a club. The doctor dives for safety as he swings at Mill.

Mill calls for help and dodges under his swing. He pushes him back into the room and locks the door.

Vito hears the scuffle down hall just as he hears shouting from the security checkpoint in the opposite direction. He glances down the hall and heads for the security check point. As he goes he pulls out his phone and speed dials Agent Gray on the way.

Agent Gray meets Lillian Shaw and the remaining agents downstairs. They’ve brought Amelia’s equipment. Then his phone rings. Vito says, “something is going down up here.”

Gray turns to Shaw, “We’ve got trouble.”

In the examination room, Ilyes hears gunshots. He and the CDC doctors vacate room, leave Amelia behind locked in the room. As they enter the hallway, the doctors can tell the gun fire is from the security stations. They start evacuating the low threat patients from the ward.

Vito opens the door into the security station. In front of him he sees two men in black agents crouched behind a desk firing at three approachign civilians. One of the civilians has been shot multiple times but is barely bleeding and slowly advancing without expression. Realizing these must be walkers like they expected, Vito hoists up his shotgun and unloads the beanbag round into the wounded one’s head. There is a crunching noise as the man’s skull cracks and he falls backward.

Another one opens his long coat and pulls out a sawed off shotgun. He blasts one of the agents and he falls back firing wildly and clutching his side.

Shaw and Agent Gray hear the gunfire as they race up the stairwell. Shaw pulls his pistol.

As Ilyes and the CDC doctors move the patients toward the emergency exit, they find their path blocked by a sickly woman in a hospital gown and clutching an IV stand as a weapon.

“Don’t let her bite you,” Ilyes shouts. He and two other doctors grapple her and pull her to the ground.

Mill meanwhile runs around the crowd to the room Amelia is locked in. He looks inside and sees the air shimmer and bulge, as if something was pushing its way into the room. With a mighty kicks he breaks the door open and rushes in.

At the security check point the gun fight continues. Vito wounds the walker with a shotgun but the creature merely grimaces and fires back. The other walker rushes forward and grapples the unwounded agent. It opens its mouth very wide and a swarm of spiders pours over the man. As blood blossoms through his shirt, Vito spots Shaw and Agent Gray emerge from the stairwell opposite him.

“You have any tazers?” Shaw asks Gray.

“I think we are past that point,” he says pulling his Desert Eagle.

“Then you want to get guys on the exits,” she says. Gray looks to the two agents who followed them up. The hurry to close the nearby doors and contain the threat.

Vito fires his shotgun into the zombie again. the damage is too much and it collapses. He backs up back into the ward. Shaw dodges past the remaining conflict to join him. They can hear the gunfire and screams behind them.

In the ward, Ilyes and the doctors manage to pin the patient after a short scuffle.

Meanwhile Mill sees the face and arms of a dark haired woman emerge from thin air. She looks like she could be the sister of the little girl. Then a second set of arms emerge and 4 large spider-like legs. She reaches for the bed. “You can’t touch her! She’s mine!”

Mill is faster. He grabs the end of Amelia’s bed and pulls her to safety. He wheels her out of the room and down the hall, never looking back.

Two huge spider limbs claw out after him, then slowly retract as Vito and Shaw watch. Mill meanwhile heads to emergency exit and past the doctors.

Ilyes calls to Dr. Carriker who isn’t holding down the zombie. “Sedate this patient.”

She stabs with it with a syringe. It struggles for a moment then goes very still. As a huge spider crawls out of her mouth, Ilyes looks for something to hit it with. In desperation he smashes it with his gloved hand.

Shaw catches up with Mill at the emergency exit.

“Can you help me carry her out of here?” he asks.

“Sure,” she says. They bundle Amelia in sheets and carry her down the stairs.

Vito meanwhile approaches the room where the creature was. He tosses a flash bang grenade inside and waits for the explosion. He then cautiously peers inside.

There is nothing there. He keeps his gun trained on the room, until the gunshots end and Agent Gray arrives.

“Something big came out,” Vito tells him. “Its gone now.”

“How big?” the old man asks, holstering his gun.

“There were two five foot legs reaching across the hall.”

Gray shouts down the hall. “We have injured men.”

The doctors head over and Gray tells them about the agent who was bitten by a horde of spiders.

“Did you see what type of spider bit him?,” Ilyes asks. “Cause there are three types of spider antivenom: neurotoxin, hemotoxin and straight necrotic. We could give them all three but that’s going to have some bad interactions.”

“Give me a second,” Gray says. He returns a moment later with a handful of strange alien spiders.

Ilyes examines the dying man carefully and decides the effects are closest to necrotic poison. they do what they can but the antivenom is unable to save his life.

Back of the Harborview Medical Center, 5:30 PM

“Where are we taking her?” Shaw asks as they carryAmelia Greenberg from the stairwell.

“I’m not sure,” Robert Mill says, adjusting his hospital gown. “Away from this place.”

“What was that thing coming out of that room?”

“It seems dangerous,” he says.

Shaw checks Amelia is unharmed. “Let’s put some distance from here and then we can talk to someone. The agents? V.I?”

“We could take her to her sister,” Mill suggests. He shuffles uneasily, wondering where his other slipper went.

“You have her number?”

“I don’t really want to go back in the hospital,” Mill admits. “It seems dangerous.”

Then they hear some shout out to them. As they shift into a defensive stance, they see it is V.I.. “Hey Mill is that you?”

Mill relaxes. “Hey, this is Amelia right here.”

“Yeah I just talked to her sister,” the monster hunter tells him.

“Great. Is there someplace we could take her?”

“Uhh, I’ve got my truck?” V.I. suggests lamely.

“Is there some_place_ we can take her?” Shaw asks.

“Yeah,” he says thinking quickly. “We got a place we could take her. What do we need?”

“I have no idea.”

“Okay, let me make some phone calls.” He leads them to his truck and then pulls out his phone. As he explains the situation to someone, they load Amelia in the truck. Mill fills Shaw in on the events in the room.

“Good job,” she says. “I thought it was just a giant spider.”

“Yeah its a like a drider,” he tells her.

“A what?” she says.

Mill explanation is interrupted by V.I. “We’ve got a place we can take her. A friend of mine, Jeb, he’s got something set up we can use.”

As they leave the garage, Shaw gets a call from Vito. “We’re stabilized up here. Where are you?”

“What was going on up there?” Shaw asks.

“We’re still trying to figure that out.”

Shaw fastens their seat belt as they pull onto the street. “The infected people were attacking?”

“Seems that way,” Vito says. “In coordination with something strange in that room.”

“Did they leave any of them alive so we can ask or interrogate them?”

“We’re still treating the injured.”

Shaw hears Agent Gray. “They are dead, they had large spiders in their heads.”

Mill looks over to Shaw and points out that john was locked in Mill’s room. Shaw passes it on, “have you checked the guy out in Mill’s room?”

“No we haven’t.”

Harborview Medical Center, 5:45 PM

Vito takes a couple of agents and sweeps the room. They find John on the floor by the window. There is a trickle of blood out of his ear. Vito prods him with his shotgun but John is very dead. There is no sign of the spider.

South of Seattle, 6:30 PM

As they drive south of the city, V.I. remarks, “I’ve got a spare pair of pants in the back.”

Mill takes advantage of that as they pull into a trailer park. V.I. stops in front of a rusty old trailer. An old man is sitting in front of the door to the trailer with a shotgun across his knees.

V.I. gets out of the truck. “Hey Jeb. Doc get here? Or any of the others?”

The old man shakes his bald head. “Nope, they are still on their way. So this is about those spiders. This must be Mill and Shaw, the detectives.”

“Nice to meet you,” Mill says shaking the man calloused hand.

Jeb scratches his white beard. “Well I’ve got a space cleared out in here. Let’s see what we can do.”

They carry Amelia Greenberg inside and place her on a table. A big medical supply bag sits nearby on a chair.

“So what’s the story?” the old man asks.

“We don’t exactly know but it seems there is an infection being spread somehow,” Mill rambles. “Spiders are getting into people’s brains, making them act strangely and eventually killing them. But before they get killed, it causes some changes in their personality I guess.”

“Yeah, some sort of weird Azlu,” Jeb comments.

“What’s that?”

“Azlu,” he says. “That’s what somebody called them once.”

Shaw joins the conversation. “Dr. Greenberg here was working for Keystone and somehow got infected.”

Jeb turns to V.I. “That’s that Cheiron front isn’t it? So they’ve got their tentacles into this.”

Jeb sits down and begins to explain. “So the Azlu are these spider things, they burrow into people’s heads. They remote control them.”

“There was also some sort of giant lady who was trying to attack Amelia here,” Mill adds.

“Yeah I’ve heard of that sort of thing. The Azlu get big enough, too big to get inside someone’s head, they turn into a person spider thing.” He sips some beer. “Reckon this thing is related to that thing in Norfolk?”

V.I. nods. “That’s what Doc says.”

“So they can communicate somehow? Over some frequency or radiation?” Mill asks.

“I don’t know about that,” Jeb admits.

“That’s what this doctor discovered,” Mill explains. “It would also explain why some of the patients all seemed to attack at the same time as the spider lady.”

Jeb whistles. “Spiders with radios in their heads.”

Mill suggests calling Amelia’s sister and asks V.I. for a ride back to his apartment to pick up some stuff.

“Sure,” the monster hunter tells him, “we’ve got to wait for Doc and the rest of the team. Jeb’s really only useful for removing bullets.”

They leave for a short while and Mill returns clothed and with the doll. He gives it to Amelia.

Harborview Medical Center, 7 PM

Ilyes wipes his brow. Those who could be saved are patched up and they have broken up the patients between the uninfected, infected, and based on the MRI’s a single possible terminal case. After the deaths 27 patients remain, not including Mill.

The doctor decides to check on that. He texts Shaw. ‘Is Mill with you?’

‘Yes, how many did you lose?’ the reply says.

‘We lost 2 patients. And 1 agent.’

Ilyes turns his attention to the critical patient. Addressing the CDC doctors, he says, “we’ve got an idea of the worst case scenario is for this guy which is a big fricking spider crawling out of him. Are we ready for that?”

Ilyes asks Agent Gray to have an agent ready and places the patient in a completely sealed isolation room.

Next he turns his attention to how to treat him. Surgery is far too risky. He decides for now to up his drug treatment.

Trailer park, south of Seattle, 7:30 PM

A upper end sedan pulls up to Jeb’s trailer. An older man and his wife step out. They introduce themselves to the detectives as Doc and Mad. As they get acquainted, a beat up Beetle pulls up and an frumpily dressed woman steps out. She introduces herself as Nails.

“You guys really like nicknames don’t you?” Shaw remarks.

V.I. remarks, “well some of the things we hunt, they might track us back afterwards. Safer this way.”

Doc enters the trailer and looks over Amelia. After a few minutes he says, “well, its great and all that you brought her here but I don’t know exactly what you expect me to do.”

“What kind of doctor are you?” Shaw asks.

“Doc’s just what they call me. I’m more of a scientist really.”

Robert Mill points out Amelia has been treating herself for some time. She might know something that could help. The others agree it might be a good idea to consult her.

“I brought my doll too if it helps,” Mill adds.

“What’s up with the doll?” V.I. asks.

“I’m not quite sure,” he shrugs. “It seems to have some sort of power I guess. Infinity is interested in it. It seems to have some effect on the Sandmen and the Dopplegangers. I figured it might be helpful.”

Doc and Mad seem to edge away from the doll after that.

A short while later Amelia wakes up. “Uh, where am I? What’s going on?”

“You were abducted from your lab,” Mill explains. “Do you remember that?”

“Uh, yeah, I remember,” she says holding her head. “People were breaking into my lab. People grabbed me and took me to a hospital or something.”

“That’s right. Things got pretty bad at the hospital. At one point spider creatures attacked. We assume it is related to this whole issue of brain spiders. So we took you out of there. I didn’t think it was safe for you there.”

She brushes some of her blond hair off her face. “Thank you. Who are you people? I thought you were just hanging out at the club.”

Mill apologizes for his deception and explains, “I was afraid that if we left you with the secret agents you would be harmed.”

Mill manages to gain Amelia’s trust and she confides that she has been infected for two months. “I’ve tried everything to drive them out.”

Rapidly speaking she describes her research: advancing the BSNX strain, concoting new drugs, isolating the creatures psychic static. She explains she was afraid she was being followed and needed imprioved methods to detect them.

“Followed by whom?” Shaw asks.

“Not sure. Someone from my dreams. This woman, this dark haired woman. Then there were the people with the buzzing in their minds. I think it was the spiders. Other hosts trying to communicate.”

Mill describes the spider woman he met.

Shaw pulls up a picture on her phone. “Like this?”

“Yeah,” Mill says.

Shaw turns to Amelia. “Its the same picture you drew at your place.”

“So she’s real,” the biochemist says. “I thought it was a hallucination.”

Mill fills her in on the encounter.

“She kept urging me to do more work on the drugs,” Amelia mutters.

“But the drugs seemed to work to some degree,” mill tells her. “You’ve had the disease longer than anyone.”

“Would you like to talk to the doctors at the hospital?” Shaw asks.

Amelia looks away. “I don’t want to go back. I don’t want to go back to the hospital.”

“That’s understandable,” Mills says. “I don’t see why you have to go back to there.”

“I tried to cure the disease. I don’t know. It wasn’t as virulent before.” She continues her rambling account of the research. She explains how she drove the infestation from the cerebral spinal fluid region into limbic system and deeper into her brain. She mentions the dreams giving her ideas to try and driving her to work harder. “Maybe she was misleading me.”

Mill asks Jeb if this helps explain how the Azlu work. The old man confesses in his experience the Azlu are not a disease, just a monstrous spider. Doc and V.I. think it might explain what happened in Norfolk in 2007. There was a massive cover up but a few reports got out of large spiders, empty skulls, and walking dead. Unfortunately no hard evidence remains. Those who wrote the reports don’t even remember it.

“I don’t know who was behind it,” V.I. comments, “but they covered their tracks pretty well.”

Shaw turns to Amelia. “Dr. Greenberg, you were exposed to this when you worked at Keystone. Do you know where they obtained their samples?”

“We were aware of an existing infection in the area,” she explains. “It had been present for some time, simple passing from host to host, leaving little trace of its passing. The original infection, as I think I understand it now, would end after passing to a new host. The original host would no signs except for some possible brain damage. But it is unlikely to kill them.”

“Dr. Greenberg why did you infect Mill?” Shaw asks.

She fidgets in her chair. “I didn’t mean to but the spiders they have the ability to overwhelm a persons cognitive function for a brief span of time.”

“So as much as I don’t want to make you do something under duress, I don’t think its prudent to leave you as you were. I believe you have been the vector for several new infections. I think if you think back I think you’ll see that its true. If you want I can give you my case files.”

As Amelia thinks on it, Shaw continues, “I don’t think you purposely did this but I think you should take steps so that this does not happen again.”

“It just so hard to think. After they infected my limbic system…”

Shaw offers to call Amelia’s sister, Katherine. “You trust her?”

“Yes.”

“And she’s not infected?”

“No, I haven’t seen her in person in weeks.”

“I trust the rest of you don’t mind me calling from this location?” Shaw asks. As they nod, she steps out.

As Amelia continues her story, Mill steps out. Outside, he asks that V.I. handle bringing Katherine here. Shaw hangs up and says someone needs to keep eye on Amelia and Mill. She checks Mill is unarmed.

Before he leaves, V.I. tells Shaw “So we don’t the expertise here to do much for her, but if they have research there maybe we should get somebody from there to talk to her about it.”

“Yeah, it would be a lot easier if she just went back.”

“Well she has good reason not to,” the young man says. “They might want to eliminate her or something.”

“I haven’t heard anything about that. The people who can help are working with them. It seems stupid like we are working against each other when we should be stopping this disease together.”

“Okay,” he says.

“I know you don’t have a history of trusting each other.”

V.I. turns to his companions. “Doc, what would it take for you to get some evidence? Then we could talk her into going back.”

“I guess I could get that in a moment,” the older man says.

“I do trust the Men in Black to control the outbreak,” Mill says. “But they might not care about her safety.”

Shaw points out the Men in Black need to be informed. “Dr. Greenberg is not patient zero, the spider lady is.”

Harborview Medical Center, 8 PM

Dr. Grant approaches Dr. Ilyes. “We still have some of the samples from Amelia and we are cross referencing them. There seems to be something slightly different about the strain she has than most of the others.”

He shows him the genetic profiling. He points to one set of genetic markers. “These correspond to 12 of the infected.”

He puts up a second slightly different sheet. “These correspond to 5 of the infected including the critical patient. And this is the one from Amelia.”

The second strain seems to be a hybrid of Amelia’s strain and the first. The doctor discusses calling the first one strain A and the second strain B. Amelia’s would be strain C. Mill has strain B.

Worried, Ilyes texts Shaw. ‘Do you know where Amelia is?’

‘Yes.’ she replies.

‘Can you her back and more importantly can you get Mill back?’

‘Working on it.’

The CDC doctors and Ilyes convene. Strain A seems to be responding best to Ilyes’s treatment. None of the patients has gotten worse and signs are good for a recovery. Strain B is less positive. They discuss their options. The surgical approach seems impossible given the size of the parasites. Dr. Hall recommends continuing with improving the drug treatment. He and Grant also like an idea Ilyes has of using ultrasound to break up the parasites. Dr. Carriker espouses the odd idea of using the psychic static from Amelia’s research. Finally Grant put forth the idea of using chemotherapy.

They decide for now to try ultrasound. Ilyes spends the evening finding an ideal frequency. It still is an iffy proposition. The resonance close to that which might cause serious brain hemorrhaging. They decide to use it on the critical patient.

Vito spends the evening recovering from his injuries and watching the room where the spider lady came through. The claw marks on the tile floor are the only evidence it was ever there.

Trailer Park, South of Seattle, 9 PM

After they collect their samples, V.I. and his friend agree to help Shaw convince Amelia and Mill to return to the hospital.

With her sister Katherine by her side, Shaw starts, “you two have both been infected. We are not going to be able to defend you from that weird spider lady or from yourselves if you lose control or erupt.”

“She’s right,” Katherine says. “You should go back to the hospital. Maybe together the doctors there can find a cure.”

“I don’t think either of you are in danger from the Men in Black,” Shaw assures them. “You are not the primary problem. For one the spider lady has obviously been trying to work through you.”

“I might not be in danger but Amelia might,” Mill says.

“When was the last time you had your treatment?” Shaw points out.

“Oh I meant from the Men in Black. I’m still in danger of dying from the infection,” he concedes. He does point out Amelia seems to be near the center of this and the infected might be a danger if she is nearby.

Shaw counters by pointing out only two patients were actually involved in earlier attack.

“What do you think Amelia?” Mill asks.

She reluctantly agrees to come back to the hospital.

Harborview Medical Center, 10 PM

Iyles meets them in the planning room. “Amelia what is you opinion. We have four approaches to treating your condition, which we are now calling strain B.”

He lays out the pros and cons of each approach: drug treatment, ultrasound, radiation therapy, and psychic static. “The last one uses what you referred to as psychic static?”

“Yes,” she explains, “the parasites give off a sort of static, that’s the best way to describe it. It works on psychic wavelengths.”

Ilyes posits his plan. “The idea is to either block that static and see what happens or create some sort of counter signal to fry them.”

“There’s a drug that I developed that could help.” She gives him the details of the drug Static. It triggers parts of brain to drive off other hosts of the infection. She hypothesizes it might be used to kill them.

Mill favors the drug treatment and hesitantly the psychic static idea. “Maybe you guys can combine your research and come up with a good chemical solution?”

Ilyes turns to Dr. Greenberg. “Amelia, I think we will treat you secondly as you are the second worst off of the patients. Given that which treatment path would you like us to try?”

“Chemical,” she says. “Perhaps the psychic method. We should compare notes.”

“You can look at the notes on the cocktail we’ve been using to treat strain A. We’ll get back to you in the conference. Right now we need to try the ultrasound on a critical patient.”

Shaw debriefs Vito while Ilyes administers the new treatment. Unfortunately he has to cut it short before it can damage the patient’s brain. Amelia spends the night looking over the notes and devises a new treatment, perfecting Ilyes’s cocktail.

Harborview Medical Center, Saturday 11th

Amelia shows Ilyes her work.

He comments, “well you get to be like the doctors that tested the first yellow fever vaccine. Are you ready to proceed?”

“Yes.”

In the coming days, her condition is much improved. Her dreams disappear and her IgE counts drop. Mill, still on the original cocktail, also improves, with a significantly reduced count.

“Right now with your current progress,” Ilyes remarks. “I’d like to keep you as the control for the current treatment.”

Over the next week, Amelia recovers. Those with Strain A make full recovery while only one of the patients with Strain B succumbs, the critical patient. A sickly spider emerges from his ear.

Shaw slips some samples out to V.I..

Iyles meanwhile discuss the situation with Agent Gray. “I know you don’t want this to be public knowledge but early diagnosis can help you guys deal with these scenarios sooner. So I would recommend allowing some knowledge of this to exist in the medical community. That way your forces and CDC can respond better.”

The Man in Black agrees to look at it. Ilyes writes a paper and his agency remove those aspect they object to but leaving enough t help others. Vito meanwhile tries to convince Gray to requisition him a flame thrower.

View
Competitive Intelligences, Part I

Seattle, Summer

As the warm months pass, Frank Brooks gradually overcomes his mental issues. He is transfered to the lwer levels where he has more freedom.

Dr. Sorenson muses,“Its good to know there is the option for recovery from severe exposre to these horrors,” as he contemplates his friends eventual release.

On the other hand Robert Mill refuses to go to therapy. He grows distant and begins a half-hearted search for a new job, at a company whose moral center he trusts.

Vittorio ‘Vito’ Vitacelli recovers from his injuries and soon is back working full time. Sorenson sometimes joins him and Lillian Shaw at their work outs.

Shaw meanwhile spends more time poring over Frank’s files and learning more about what horrors lurk in the area.

Ilyes does more research as well but ends the summer with a nice vacation.

Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, Tuesday September 7th, 10 AM

Lillian Shaw gets a phone call. A gravely voice says, “Shaw this is Agent Gray.”

“Hi, I haven’t heard from you in a while,” she replies to the Man in Black.

“I’ve been…many places. But you asked me to let you know if we were active in the area.”

“I appreciated it. Is there anything I should be aware of?”

He hesitates. “We should talk about it. You might be able to help us.”

“Alright,” she says curious. “Where would you like to meet?”

“We are set up in Harborview Medical Center,” he informs her.

“I take it this is a medical case?”

“Yeah. I don’t want to talk about it on the phone.”

“Okay.” She explains, “I just wonder if I should bring along one of my medical consultants.”

“If you trust them,” he says gravely.

“Alright. I should be able to clear my calender for the afternoon.”

“Oh and can you bring Vito along as well,” he says with more enthusiasm.

Shaw immediately calls Dr. Ilyes. He apparently is having a busy day at the fertility clinic but should be able to meet her at Harborview Medical Center. She then tells Vito, “You are coming for a ride along. Your old friends are back in the area.”

Harborview Medical Center, Yesler Terrace, 4 PM

The large hospital still seems understaffed and poorly maintained. In an unused hallway on the 4th floor, a check point has been set up, manned by a man in black.

Shaw and Vittorio ‘Vito’ Vitacelli arrive first. Agent Gray greets them as they are talking to the guard. He takes into the first room of the hall. A half covered map of the city covers one wall. Pushpins of various colors have been pressed into the cork board.

Agent Gray begins to explain the situation. “There is a bit of a medical issue in the city. One that concerns people like ourselves. It seems there is some sort of parasite that is infecting people. We’ve had a dozen cases reported so far.”

“I presume this isn’t just some strange exotic bug,” Shaw says dryly.

“No, this is definitely something unnatural. We don’t know too much about it yet but it is some sort of arachnid.” As Shaw looks blankly at him, he says, “spiders.”

“What does the parasite do?” Vito asks. “How does it manifest?”

“It seems to lay eggs or burrow into people’s brains.”

“This sounds like a case for spider man,” Shaw says.

“Spider man?” the man in black ask.

Shaw elaborates. “One of my consultants got himself a bit of a reputation looking into brain spiders a few years ago. I don’t know if it is connected to the recent outbreak.”

Agent Gray considers the possibility. “I don’t know. These have mostly been in the last few months.”

“How does it normally transmit itself?” the detective asks.

“We don’t know yet,” Gray admits. He outlines the known cases, pointing them out on the map. The cases have been crudely color coded with red, blue and green pushpins. The red and blue pins are clustered around Capital Hill and Central District. The green pushpins are scattered across the city. Shaw asks what the colors denote.

“We are trying to get an idea of the specifics of the disease,” Gray explains. “Blue are male victims, red female. Green are older cases that might be related.”


Dr. Ilyes joins the group and Shaw quietly hopes Gray won’t mention the ‘spider man’ comment. As he looks over the map, he recognize some of his own cases among the green pushpins.

“So I’m told you know something about arachnid brain infestations,” Agent Gray says.

“I’ve encountered and done autopsies on bodies that have had arachnid infestations before,” the doctor says guardedly. He starts pointing out those pushpins which he was involved in.

Gray fills Ilyes in on the current upsurge in cases. As of today there have been 14 deaths, starting roughly a month ago. Four of those cases have occurred in the last week.

“This is turning into an epidemic.” Ilyes speculates, “there must be some sort of species jump. I bet you there’s been some sort of mutation in the spiders.”

“That’s what our doctors think as well.” The old man points to the board. “What’s very worrisome is these two cases. These two were missing much more of their brain than the others. They were also lacked any spiders. But we did find webbing in the brain cavity. It also appears they were clinically dead for some time.”

“You mean they were observed walking around after they should be dead?” Shaw asks.

“Yes.”

Shaw seems unfazed by this information but both she and Ilyes notice the man in black is holding something back.

As Gray continues to detail the cases, Ilyes asks, “What were they trying to do?”

“We don’t know.”

“Were they near one of your facilities?” he asks hoping to get at what he was hiding.

“No,” Gray says truthfully. “We don’t believe this is a direct attack on national security.”

Ilyes presses him on possible vectors and Gray hestiatnly says, “I’m not sure this is the same phenomena. But I’ve seen something like it before. Where a person had a spider in their head and was walking around after death. Those spiders didn’t spread this way. But perhaps like you said this is some sort of mutation or hybrid or something. In which case there may larger, more physical threats than just the infection.”

“Well yes, if the spiders start leaving their brains,” Shaw says.

“It would be following the pattern of incubation,” Ilyes explains. “Where the brain spiders are merely the larval stage. Goliath tarantula’s can reach 3 feet across and are capable of eating birds, cats and small dogs.”

“I’ve seen much bigger tarantulas,” Gray says. “If we see more of those we will want to invest in shotguns.”

“Where was that?” Shaw asks.

“That was in New York.” He starts to explain the incident. “They seemed to have taken two forms or perhaps they were allied monsters. There were the spiders which got to the size of a large rat. Then there were the spider human hybrids.”

“Hybrids?”

“Part human part spider,” he says.

“Like spider man?” Shaw says jokingly.

“No more like the Fly.” When no one gets it he explains, “the movie.”

Ilyes speculates this could be the result of a transgenic mutation. “In arachnology, it is not entirely unprecedented, though this represents a radical extreme.”

“Are there any changes in the bodies of the local victims?” Shaw asks.

“No.”

“Maybe they’re not the same then.”

“I hope so.”

“We’ll have to pick up some insecticide,” Vito says, not entirely joking.

Shaw turns to the task at hand. “I assume you’ve been looking for connections between the victims. What was it you were hoping that One of a Kind Investigations could help with?”

“Actually that was part of it,” he explains. “We know where the victims have been living and where they died but we don’t know what connects them.”

“We can look into that for you.”

Agent Gray passes them a folder with the victim information.

Shaw turns to the doctor. “Ilyes would you mind sharing your expertise with them? You might be able to find some signs of the transmutations.”

He nods. “Or more importantly figure out a chemical or biological screen. Something non-invasive.”

Agent Gray tells him, “sure I’ll introduce you to Dr. Grant and his team.”


In additonal to the elderly Dr. Grant, the CDC team includes the grim faced Dr. Hall and the eager Dr. Carriker. Together they look over the bodies of the latest victims. They show the results of the blood test which thus far has failed to reveal any obvious way of screening victims.

“Theoretically there should be byproducts from the spiders,” Ilyes tells them.

They explain they have been thus far hampered by a lack of living patients. They also lack a theories of the vector. There are no bite marks and the only exterior signs are some bleeding of the nasal cavities.


Agent Gray takes Vito aside. He tries to convince him to join his organization as a part time agent in Seattle.

“What about conflict with what I am currently doing?” the sniper asks.

“I don’t see what conflict there would be.”

“Last time there were definitely some conflicts that arose,” he comments.

Gray shrugs. “I’m just looking for some men I can trust. We’re spread pretty thin.”

“You can keep me on your short list. What do you need me to do?”

“At the moment just what we talked about,” Gray tells him. “I’m just thinking ahead.”

“Okay.”

They trade contact information and split for the evening.

Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, 4 PM

Mill gets a call at the office. It is V.I..

“How’s it going?” the detective says.

“Things have been fairly quiet,” the monster hunter says.

“That must be nice.”

“Yeah, definitely. In a way. Better for normal people.” V.I. gets to the substance of this call. “We think is cover up going on.”

“Cover up?” Mill asks.

“Yeah. there is a group of men in black in town.”

“Oh them,” he says sourly.

“Yeah,” V.I. says with the same tone.

“This would that same group of guys?”

“We think so.”

“I don’t trust them at all,” Mill says. “What do you got?”

“Well they seem to be checking out all the local morgues.”

Mill thinks back to the Community case. “Again?”

“Again, yeah. But we’ve done some digging around.” V.I. seems almost eager. “They have a CDC crew with them. Must be some sort of infection.”

“So why don’t they let people know about this?” Mill asks.

“That’s the question isn’t it?” the monster hunter says. “Well we think they have some sort of parasite going around. There have been a lot of requisitions for MRI records. I got a couple friends who have some theories.”

“How can I help?” he asks.

V.I. explains. “We are looking for evidence. We want to know what’s going on and get evidence of whatever they are covering up. That way when the time comes we can tell the world.”

“Okay. I have a few contacts at the morgues. Do you have any more solid leads or are we just going to go fishing?”

“My friends have some theories of what might behind this. But yeah at the moment it is a matter of checking morgues and keeping our eyes open until we know more.”

“Alright, I’m happy to take a look. I’ve been trying to keep clear of this stuff a little bit but you’ve been good to us in the past so I’m happy to help you out.”

Before he can hang up, V.I. says, “Oh let me give you my contact information.”

The monster hunter’s telephone number in hand, Mill calls the county morgue and sets up a meeting with Stephen Chang.

His next call is to Dr. Ilyes but he doesn’t pick up. Mill calls Dr. Sorenson instead.

“Hey there Trevor, how’s it going?”

Sorenson is doodling on his notepad. “A little bit slow. Not a lot of crazy people around today.”

“That’s probably a good thing. It been a long time since last we talked so I can imagine you know what this calls about most likely.”

The psychiatrist can think of a few things it might be. “Trouble?”

“Weird crap.”

Putting aside his hopes Mill might return to therapy, Sorenson says, “on a positive note, Frank is doing very very well and he’s been moved into the more open wing of the hospital.”

“I heard he was doing well,” Mill says guiltily. “I haven’t come to see him in three months, I guess. Its been a while. Anyway, you know those cases we had at the morgue?”

“The body parts going missing?” Sorenson asks.

“Yeah, there may be something similar but it isn’t clear at this point. I was wondering if you wanted to get back in the game and do some more investigating? Off the books right now, so there’s no money involved. I’ll let you know that up front.”

“They pay me well enough here to allow me to pursue extracurricular hobbies,” the doctor quips.

Mill continues his story, “they think some sort of disease going around. Despite my profound medical knowledge, I figured I might need someone who knows more than me. So I thought of you.”

“I appreciate that.”

“You have the medical know-how and the ability to tolerate the essential strangeness of these cases.”

Mill quickly fills him in on the involvement of the men in black. “I figure if we can turn the screws on those jerks, its a bonus.”

“I guess,” Sorenson says with less enthusiasm. “Well I only have one patient left this afternoon.”

They arrange to meet at the county morgue. “We are kind of on a fishing expedition at the moment.”

Sorenson smiles. “This kind of sounds like fun.”

Harborview Medical Center, Yesler Terrace, Evening

Dr. Ilyes spends his evening consulting with the CDC scientists. They go over the evidence searching for biological and chemical anomalies. The best they manage is a build up of webbing in the subarachnoid zone of the brain. This substance shares some chemical characteristics with ordinary spider web.

Ilyes begins working on a hypothetical treatment based on the idea that these creatures are biologically similar to spiders.

Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, Evening

Vito Vitacelli picks up some wasp spray at the hardware store.

“Wasp spray? Why?” Shaw asks.

“It is pretty effective on arachnids and has a 15 foot stand off range,” he tells her.

Shaw makes a call to Mill. She catches him on his way to the morgue with Sorenson.

“Sorry Trevor,” Mill tells him. “Its Shaw I’ve got to take this. Hello!”

“Hey,” Shaw says, “I wanted to let you know there seems to be something going on in the area. It seems like spider man was on to something.”

“Yeah?”

“We have some information on 14 recent cases in the area. Vito and I are back at the office to try to find some connections between them. I know you are off but if we’ll probably be here for a few more hours.”

Mill feigns ignorance. “Well I just met up with a friend here so I’ll see if I can meet up with you later.”

“Okay.”

“Bye.”

Vito starts to set up a map, replicating the one at the hospital. He also begins to break down the information on the victims: age, sex, ethnicity, and so forth. The victims range in age from their late teens to late 30s, with most of them in their 20s. They are also mostly single with a slight leaning toward females.

Shaw starts Erin on the credit checks while she focuses on the five most recent deaths. As evening wears on, Shaw and Vito discuss Mill and why he hasn’t involved himself yet. They worry that he hasn’t been the same since that case in May.

County Morgue, Downtown, 5 PM

Robert fills Trevor in on his call with Shaw. “I think we’ll look into this ourselves first and fill them in later. I don’t fully trust her at this point to make the right decisions. If you don’t feel comfortable with that I understand but after that debacle with Grant I want to play things closer to the vest.”

“Okay,” the doctor says.

“Of course we might not get anywhere,” Mill admits.

At their meeting Mill tells Stephen Chang about the mysterious infection and government cover up. Luckily Sorenson is able to smooth things over with the skeptical morgue worker. “Like he said, if you have any cases that have anything odd about them.”

Chang seems reluctant at first but then admits, “you are the second person to come by asking about that.”

“Oh really? Who was the first person who came by?”

“He didn’t tell me his name. He was well dressed and wore dark sunglasses.”

Realizing the Men in Black have already been here, Trevor says, “I don’t know if that sounds very legitimate. He sounds like he was hiding something.”

Chang fills them in about some odd cases recently. It seems there has been a rash of young people coming in with aneurysms. “We got one just last night.”

“Where from?”

Chang says it came from someplace in southern Capitol Hill.

“And the victim?” Trevor asks.

“A woman, age 38,” Chang says calmly.

“Do you know what circumstances were?”

“She was found collapsed in an alleyway. No signs of a struggle. She wasn’t robbed. Only some blood coming out her nose. We haven’t done an autopsy yet.”

“I’d be very interested to know the results,” the psychiatrist says eagerly. “Has the family been notified?”

“Yes, they’ve been by already.”

Robert interjects and warns Chang about the danger of the possible infestation.

“You think its a disease?” Chang says incredulously.

“More of a parasite possibly,” Trevor says.

“Parasite? You haven’t been listening to that crazy spider guy?”

“What?”

Chang explains. “There was this guy who worked at the local hospital a few years back. He was talking about spiders in people’s brains.”

“What crazy guy was that?” Trevor asks, feeling like he knows the answer.

“His name was Il-something.”

“I see.”

“Some crackpot,” Mill adds.

They convince Stephen to let them know if he finds something. They also learn the victim’s name is Vera Floyd. They thank him and leave.

Camping out in a Starbucks they do a quick background check on Vera. She apparently is a clerk at a Dollar Tree and is a heavy set black woman with long curly hair. Her Facebook pictures reveal an active partier and club goer. They realize the clubs are close to where she was found.

“Maybe we can track down what club she was at that night?” Trevor suggests.

They take down the addresses of the ones she liked on Facebook.

Club Vermillion, Capitol Hill, 8 PM

As the club goers pass by them, Dr. Sorenson and Robert Mill talk to a bouncer named Dave. They ask about Vera. “Yeah she was here. She came here a bunch of times. Last time she was with a guy named … Jeff.”

“Boyfriend?” Sorenson asks.

The big guy shrugs. “I guess. I didn’t really ask.”

“Is he a regular too?”

“Yeah,” Dave replies scratch his beard.

“We’d be interested in getting touch with him.” Trevor whispers to Mill, “How much should I tell him?”

“Let him know,” Mill says firmly.

“Well its sad to say she was found dead the other day,” Trevor tells Dave. “We are investigating the circumstances of her death.”

“Oh,” he says shocked.

“Just trying to determine if there was any foul play involved.”

Mill adds, “she was found relatively nearby.”

Dave points points Jeff out at bar. “The red headed guy over there.”

“We really appreciate it,” Trevor tells him.

“Thanks Dave,” Mill adds.


Sorenson shouts over the pounding music, “Hey! Is your name Jeff?”

They convince the man to accompany them to a quieter place in the club. They explain what happened to Vera. He seems shocked. “She’s dead!?”

“I’m sorry for your loss,” the doctor consoles him.

Jeff tries to shrug it off. “We hung out a couple times. It wasn’t that big a deal.”

They ask him about the last time he saw her.

“She was really pissed at me last time I saw her,” he tells him.

“Any particular reason?” Sorenson asks.

“She was upset with me for some reason.”

“Was this her normal behavior?”

“No.”

“When was this?” Mill asks.

“This was, I guess, a week ago or so. I don’t know. I was really feeling out of it. I had this weird headache.”

Trevor glances at Robert. “Was that here?”

“No we had just left the Rock Box.”

They question him further but he is unable to give them much more in the way of useful information.

He mentions, “a few weeks ago she got in a fight with someone. I don’t know who.”

“A little bit of belligerent drunk?” Sorenson inquires.

“I wouldn’t say that.”

Mill is concerned about his own illness. “You feel better now?”

“Yeah, I figure I had the flu or something. I just had a headache and a weird itchiness.”

As he scratches at his head, Trevor speculates he might have this mysterious infection. “You didn’t have a doctor look at it?”

“No.”

“Not to worry you,” Mill says, “but she had symptoms similar to that before her death. We just want to make sure everything is okay.”

Jeff seems worried. “I feel fine. But, you mean it might have been me?”

“If you feel any reoccurence of these conditions please let us know,” Mill says. “It might be nothing.”

Trevor asks, “I don’t suppose you would be willing to come in for a blood test.”

He refuses but Mill gives him his card.

Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, Wednesday September 8th, 9 AM

Dr. Ilyes calls in. He going to spend the day working on a possible cure at Harborview Medical Center.

Vito and Shaw pore over the credit checks on the victims. They find a lot of charges to night clubs, all the victims frequented clubs around south Capitol Hill. Vito starts mapping the purchases to see if there is any matching up between the victims. Shaw has Erin run the next set of names.

Robert Mill calls Dr. Sorenson on his way in. “How are you doing?”

“Same old, same old,” the doctor says yawning. “Bunch of crazy people.”

“You think we ought to bring in other people now?” Mill asks.

“My intuition is that Jeff knows more than he shared to us,” Trevor shares. “He might be able to tell us more of what happened. He may even be involved in what’s going on. We may need more eyes on this. We’ve already tipped him on to this.”

“I kind of thought he was trustworthy but I don’t always have the best judgement of those kinds of things. I’ll bring everyone in on this.”

Mill gets to the office at 9:30. He spots the board Vito is working on. “Hey Vito how’s it going?”

“Working on the case we went up to the hospital about,” Vito tells him, putting another pushpin on the map.

“What’s up about that?”

“Another strange one,” he says.

Shaw joins the conversation. “You know Vito’s old friends?”

“Agent Gray and company?” Mill says sourly.

“They gave us a call notifying us they were in town,” She tells him.

“They are covering up some sort of medical mystery that they are trying to suppress as the government is wont to do,” Mill suggests.

“Suppress? They called me.”

“They are keeping it from the public at large though,” he says bitterly. “All these many strange deaths that may be an epidemic.”

Shaw tries to reason with him. “Well the deaths are on public record. They are not publicizing the brain spider theory. They are still working out how they are spreading. Ilyes is looking into it.”

They share information with Shaw explaining the victims’ main commonality are that they attend nightclubs and Mill filling them in on Trevor and his research into Vera Floyd.

“So they still have the body?” Shaw asks.

Mill says, “yes. We told them to be very careful but we didn’t know what the situation was.”

“I’ll notify Ilyes.”

She also tells him about the cases of walkers, people seemingly controlled by the spiders after their deaths. “Perhaps the spiders were actually controlling the bodies. From what the scientists said this is different from previous cases.”

Mill also tells her about Jeff and his illness. “I don’t know if its meaningful information or a coincidence.”

Shaw peculates, “when we found Frank he said they tried to put spiders into his brain. Its possible that is unconnected. But its possible however they if infect a person it can fought it off.”

Vito spends the day breaking down the cases by when they visited the clubs and their times of death. Its very rough but it looks like they all visited one of three clubs (Vermillion, Rock Box, and Havana) one or two weeks before they died. Each of the clubs are within a few blocks of each other.

Mill looks into the club’s background but finds nothing suspicious about the vendors and owners.

Harborview Medical Center, Yesler Terrace, 4 PM

Dr. Ilyes gets a call from Vito.

“What sort incubation time for these things?” he asks the doctor.

Ilyes thinks for a moment. “Well generally figuring, as we don’t know all of the factors involved, on the high end it may take a three to four months. On the low end it may go to a terminal case in little more than a week.”

Shaw’s voice can be heard on the line. “Oh hey are you talking to Ilyes? Can you put him on speaker phone.”

“Sure,” Vito says.

“Hey where are you?” Shaw asks.

“I’ve been working with the team that you introduced me to,” Ilyes explains. “I’ve been looking at the brain chemistry of the bodies of the victims. I’ve been studying, trying to come up with some diagnostic tests for this whole thing.”

“Well we think we’ve found another case.”

“Still alive?” he asks, hopeful.

Shaw burst his bubble. “Recently dead, two days.”

“Okay.”

“This came from your old friend Stephen Chang,” she adds.

“Well I can take a look.”

Mill’s voice can be heard. “Quick caveat, Stephen Chang did not have the highest regard for your medical credentials. He called you the crazy spider guy.”

Ilyes turns to Dr. Hall. “We may have another patient. It may be better for one of you to diagnose the body.”

“What’s the name of the victim?” the old man asks.

“Vera Floyd.”

“Oh, she’s just been brought in,” he tells him.

Ilyes hears Shaw asks Mill about someone called Jeff Willis. Mill says, “he wasn’t keen on guys in Genesis T-shirts asking for his blood. I’ve already warned him that there is some disease going around so he’s a bit freaked out.”

“Dr. Ilyes are you still there?” Shaw asks.

“Yes.”

“There’s another guy who was friends with the victim, Vera, named Jeff Willis. He said he wasn’t feeling too well a few days ago. I don’t know if it is worth it but if he is infected-”

Ilyes asks for his contact info. Then he turns to the doctors. “This may be a false positive but we may have an individual who was exposed and is alive.”

Agent Gray goes to bring Jeff back while the doctors ready the isolation room.

Hillcrest Mental Health Center

Dr. Sorenson greets Frank Brooks as he enters the office. “Hey Frank how is it going today?”

“I’m feeling pretty good,” the older man says with some surety.

“Good. I’m glad. Well I am doing a little bit of work with the agency again and we have stumbled across another case that is related to something you were involved with in the past. It seems that there are some government workers who are involved with this as well. They are investigating a possible brain spider outbreak.”

Frank searches his memory. “This would be the Task Force wouldn’t it?”

“I guess that is what you would call them. They are not a local presence. But they have been sent here to look into this. They think there is some potential for a larger scale infestation of these creatures.”

“You said they were brain spiders?” Frank asks.

“That’s what they are calling them. They could be a parasite. They could be more like an infection. Of course there are hints these are not your usual infectious agents.”

“Right,” he says grimly, “they wouldn’t be involved otherwise.”

Sorenson speculates. “They might be some experiment gone wrong or worse. Do you recall anything like this from your cases? We don’t have many leads.”

“I don’t recall any cases that dealt with what you are saying. I remember someone to trying to put spiders in my head.”

“Yes, I remember from when you were initially admitted you said that. Do you recall any more? A time frame? A place?”

“I can’t remember,” Frank says trying to look back. “It was a building somewhere. I can’t remember. Windows? They were really high.”

“Was this a place you were investigating?” the doctor asks.

He shrugs. “Maybe or maybe that is where they took me.”

“Could you sketch it?”

“I can try.” Frank takes the paper and tries drawing the location.

“It could be very helpful to your recovery to put your memories to paper. Don’t worry about being an artist, you should see my stick figures.”

After a while he shows him the result. It is a large empty building, probably a warehouse or disused industrial building. Dusty covers the floor.

“That actually helps a lot Frank,” Sorenson says.

“There was a woman,” Frank mentions.

“Was she another victim?”

He shakes his head. “I don’t think she was a woman.”

“Okay,” the psychiatrist says uncertainly.

“There was something very weird about her,” Frank explains. “I remember now. The spiders. They came out of her. Out of her mouth.”

“So she was the carrier or the host,” Sorenson surmises.

Frank draws a picture of her as well. A young woman with long dark hair. Frank explains she looks like she was 18 or so.

“This is really helpful Frank. I very proud of you and how you are communicating the memories you are reacquiring.”

South Capitol Hill, 8 PM

Shaw calls Ilyes asks, “want to go clubbing?”

Dr. Ilyes apparently is familiar with the Rock Box, having played there with his band once. He joins Vito and Shaw as they canvas the clubs.

Mill on the other hand decides to have fun. With Trevor as his wingman, he heads to the Rock Box to look for a good time. Before they leave the others, Trevor fills them in on Frank’s recollection of the mysterious woman.

Shaw talks to the bartender at the Vermillion about one of the victims, Michelle Cooper. He tells her that she got in a fight with a woman named Helen Collins a few weeks ago.

“Does that happen a lot?” the detective asks.

“Not usually.” He backpeddles. “At least not every night. I didn’t see her after that.”

“Do you know why they were fighting?”

“I don’t really know. You might ask Helen, I think she is here tonight.”

He points her out to Shaw and goes back to the other patrons. Shaw snaps a picture of her with her phone. After making sure she isn’t blurry, Shaw walks over.

She manages to get Helen to open up about the event. “Michelle? Oh yeah, that crazy bitch. She bit me!”

“No way!” Shaw says.

“Yeah!” She tries to show her the mark but there is nothing there. “Well I mean it was a couple weeks ago.”

“Why did she come at you?” the detective asks.

“I don’t know,” she shrugs. “We were just sitting at the bar. I didn’t even know her name and then she reached over, grabbed my hand and bit me.”

“Wow!”

“She must have been on drugs. Then she had the gall to say she didn’t remember anything.”

“I guess its good she didn’t have rabies or anything, right?” Shaw says.

Helen seems to think about it for a moment. “Its kind of weird actually.”

“What is?”

“I don’t know but its just something weird happened recently. My boyfriend got all upset at me a week ago.” She clarifies. “Ex-boyfriend. We broke up.”

“He got upset? Why?”

“He said I bit him,” she tells Shaw.

“That’s weird.” Shaw asks, “but you didn’t really bite him?”

“No!” She continues more quietly, “at least I don’t remember biting him.”

“Did he have a bite on him?” Shaw asks. “Maybe he was trying to cover and some other chick bit him.”

Helen seizes on the idea. “Yeah that’s it. He was cheating.”

“What’s this scum bag’s name?” Shaw asks.

“Slim.”

“Slim have a last name?”

“Mendes.”

Shaw talks with her a bit longer. It seems she too was ill recently with a nasty headache and itchiness.

“Maybe she did have rabies,” Shaw suggests. “Did you have yourself checked out?”

“Yeah and doc gave me a prescription for some pain meds.”

The others strike out as far as new information. Ilyes calls the hospital and learns they have picked up Jeff Willis. “Hey guys I’m going to head back to look at Jeff. I’ll let them know about Helen Collins and Slim Mendes.”

Rock Box, South Capitol Hill, 10 PM

While Robert Mill is busy trying to pick up women, Trevor spends his time looking for a woman matching Frank’s description.

Robert meets an attractive woman with long blond hair. He chats her up. Amelia seems interested in him and drags him onto the dance floor. Trevor meanwhile watches from the bar.

Amelia and Robert migrate to a secluded corner and make out. Trevor moves to keep an eye on them.

Suddenly Robert feels a horrible burning sensation on his lips and mouth. Amelia pulls back and shakes her head. Her expression is a mix of fear and guilt. Robert realizes she knows what just happened. Then she bolts.

A creepy tingling sensation covers Robert’s lips as he and Trevor chase her to the door.

Trevor catches up with her. He grabs her wrist and wrenches her arm behind her. He pushes her to the door.

A bouncer interposes himself. “What are you doing?”

“She’s under arrest,” Trevor bluffs.

“He’s not a cop, he’s just a creep,” Amelia shouts.

Before the bouncer can do anything, Robert pepper sprays him. He stumbles to his knees as they push past him and out of the club.

“I’m sorry I’m going to have to take you into the station,” Trevor says to the woman.

Then they realize everyone outside is looking at them. A pair of bouncers come out of the club. Trevor wrestles Amelia towards the car with some difficulty.

Robert gets the door open and Trevor shouts, “Pop the trunk! pop the truck!”

Just then the bouncers catch up with them. Several onlookers are also recording incident or calling the police.

Robert brandishes a gun. “Step away or die!”

The bouncers back off. “We don’t want any trouble. Just let the girl go.”

Then an onlooker makes a lung for Trevor and Amelia. The three of them go sprawling onto the street.

Trevor gets up and tries to explain, “this woman has an infection. She’s very contagious. We’re trying to lock down an outbreak you dumb ass!”

Amelia however crawls away in the confusion.

Realizing the level of trouble they are in, Robert shouts, “run for it!”

Trevor jumps in the car and they peel out.

In Transit

As the two detective drive off, Trevor asks, “did she do what I thought she did?”

“Yup,” Robert replies. “I’m screwed.”

Trevor realizes he is still holding onto her bag. “Hopefully our agent friends will cover this up.”

Robert’s mood rapidly drops. “Obviously I’m going to be arrested and I’m infected with a parasite, so this is not a great night for me.”

“But,” Trevor struggles for some way to console him, “its very very early. In the infection I mean. If not months you have a week to live. Dr. Ilyes is already working on a cure.”I think we should regroup with Agent Gray and the others."

Trevor’s pep talk doesn’t help Robert at all. “I don’t know what to do. I’m so screwed.”

“Maybe I should drive,” Trevor says looking at his friends pale complexion. “I promise I won’t wreck the car.”

“Yeah you better,” he says. He stops the car and pukes out the window.

Trevor calls Shaw and puts her on speaker phone. Shaw seems chipper. “Did you get my text. A great breakthrough about the biting?”

Trevor looks at Robert. “Yeah…we actually had out own little breakthrough. My partner in crime-”
“What?” Shaw asks.

“My partner in crime got bit. He was smoozing with a lady and I think she bit him.”

“She bit him? Alright. I’m going to put you on speaker.”

Vito can be heard. “What did you guys do when she bit him?”

“Well she tried to run away like she knew she had done something wrong,” Trevor explains. “I intercepted her, there was a bit of scuffle and unfortunately she got away.”

“What do you mean a bit of a scuffle?”

“A bit of a scuffle,” he tells Vito. “I was trying to bring her into the CDC site.”

“And what was happening while you were doing this?” the military man asks.

“Unfortunately we were witnessed by other club patrons.”

Vito has a sinking feeling. “How many other club patrons?”

“A couple…dozen.”

“Are we talking police reports here?” Vito asks.

Robert interjects. “Yeah. I’m going to be arrested soon and I’m going to die apparently. Anything we could do to stop that would be outstanding.”

Shaw takes control of the conversation. “You should surrender yourselves to the Men in Black and they can process you. That way it will go better for your arrest.”

“Trevor is probably fine,” Robert comments. “I don’t think they identified him. Obviously it was my car.”

Trevor continues to describe the situation at the bar but Shaw cuts him off. “Obviously this is a big deal to you but Mill doesn’t sound good. How is he looking?”

“He’s freaked out and he is in shock,” Trevor explains. “He doesn’t appear to be in pain or wounded. He’s just a bit freaked out by the situation.”

“I suggest you go over to the hospital and talk to Agent Gray about this.”

“That’s where we are heading right now. I have her purse. I haven’t had a chance to look through it right now.”

Shaw lets him ramble for a bit longer and then hangs up.

“Shaw,” Vito says, “lets go over to the other club to hear what is going on.”

“I’ll drop you by there,” Shaw tells him.

Rock Box, South Capitol Hill, 10:30 PM

Shaw drops off Vito. The club is open but conversation is focused on the recent events. As the police question people, he hears the details of the buggled kidnapping.

After a while he steers the conversation at the bar to who the woman was. Unfortunately no one really knows her though they know she’s turned up a few times in the past month. He swings by the Havana but no one knows who she is there either.

Harborview Medical Center

Dr. Ilyes watches as Jeff Willis is brought in. The red haired man struggles with the agents, “get your hands off me you bastard!”

The doctors sedate him and hand cuff him to a hospital bed.

Ilyes takes part in the examination. His brain seems healthy. The only signs of damage are some hemorrhaging along his nasal cavities. Even that seems to be healing. They do his blood work but there are no signs of infection or stress to his system.

After a few hours Ilyes tries to interview the man. “Hello Mr. Willis?”

“Whu-,” he says sleepily.

“We understand you’ve been suffering from an unusual flu recently.”

“Yeah,” he says groggily. “Where am I?”

“You are at Harborview.”

He pulls at the his handcuffed arm. Innocently he asks, “why am I handcuffed to the bed?”

Ilyes decides to be honest. “You need to understand you are being detained for diagnostic purposes. In there is an emergent disease in the Seattle area. Until we know you are not contagious you need to be kept here.”

Despite his approach Jeff resists his questions and his drugged out state makes it difficult for him to learn anything new about the infection.

That evening they bring in Helen Collins and Agent Gray informs him they are on the look out for her ex-boyfriend Slim.


Around 11 PM, Robert Mill and Dr. Sorenson arrive.

Agent Gray meets them. “What is this about?”

Sorenson states to explain, “My partner here, um-”

Mill jumps in. “I’ve come to turn myself in for a crime I just committed.”

Gray looks confused. “We don’t really handle that stuff.”

Undeterred, Mill continues his rambling confession. “Plus I think I’m infected with a brain spider.”

“He was bit by a mysterious woman at a night club that we were investigating,” Sorenson explains.

“I see,” the agent says as he understands.

“He freaked out a little bit. I’m certain anything he did was due to that.”

Mill seems less convinced. “Either I was infected by a brain spider or I went crazy for really no good reason.”

“He’s in shock right now,” the doctor covers for him.

Agent Gray turns to another Man in Black. “Jacobs talk to the local PD.”

Sorenson fills Gray in on details of the incident.

“You got that Jacobs?” Gray asks. “Tell them we’ve apprehended the suspect. This is a federal matter now. Tell them also to let us know the woman reports in.”

As Agent Jacobs leaves, the older man turns to Mill. “Let’s take you to see the doctors.”

“I’m sure everything will be fine,” Trevor tells him. “Ilyes probably has a cure three quarters of the way figured out by now.”

Robert remains in poor spirits. “I assaulted a guy, I brandished a firearm, I attempted to kidnap a lady, and I stole from her.”

“It will be okay.”

Even Agent Gray tries to encourage him. “Don’t worry about it.”


Agent Gray brings the two investigators to Dr. Ilyes. “We believe your colleague here has been infected.”

Trevor is prattling away in a poor attempt to improve Mill’s mood. “She was very attractive I can see why you might have fallen for her.”

“Sorenson shut up,” Ilyes says irritably. “Mill, first of all it may just be craziness. Secondly the vector indicate it may be a sinus infection. Did anything go into your nose or your ear?”

“My mouth,” he explains.

“Okay let have a look.”

Before starting his investigation, Ilyes pushes Sorenson out of the room. Once in the hall he asks, “What did they teach you about bedside manner?!”

“I have a different approach.”

Fuming, Ilyes returns to Mill. “I’d like to remind you there has been at least one survivor of this disease. Also there is less than a 50% chance based on most known virulent diseases of infection. This is not a death sentence.”

Ilyes examines him, taking swabs of his mouth and closely examining his lips and inner mouth. There are no bite marks but on close examination there are signs of perforations of his inner mouth, like something burrowed into him. Ilyes sends the blood and swabs to be analyzed.

Harborview Medical Center, Night

Shaw calls her contacts at the Police Department. There have been no posts for an arrest warrant for Mill. She also asks them to get any reports of bitings from the area of South Capitol Hill.

Ilyes talks to Robert. “Mill, here is a bit of good news. According to the CDC and the Seattle PD you are already in custody. Therefore there are no local police who are looking for you. Secondly here’s a little thing if there is no one to press charges, usually prosecutors won’t enforce.”

“There is the bouncer,” Mill reminds him.

“Yeah that is just assault,” the doctor replies lamely.

Mill fills Ilyes about Amelia the girl who infected him. It seems she was a biochemist looking for a good time. Ilyes passes the information on to Agent Gray.

Shaw arrives around midnight. She looks at the bag Dr. Sorenson recovered from Amelia. “Has any one dusted these for prints?”

The Men in Black tell her yes but they have had no matches. Shaw gets a copy of the prints anyway. In addition to the usual odds and ends there are three vials in bag, each hand labeled. One, a redish liquid, is labeled Static. The second, a light blue, is labeled Telapathine-12. The last is labeled BSNX-9 and resembles the stock of BSNX-7 from Keystone Pharmaceuticals.

Shaw talks to Mill. by this point, the detective has developed a headache and a strange tingling sensation around his nose and head.

“Need me to bring anything?” she asks.

“Maybe I do need therapy after all,” Mill says. “I was starting to feel a bit under the weather. I’ll try and sleep. I apologize for doing this.”

“Its nothing you did to me.”

Vito jogs down a bit after midnight. He jokes with the Men in Black. “Agent Gray, it was a case of keystone PIs. If there was one thing that they didn’t do wrong I can’t figure it out.”

“Well they didn’t shoot anybody,” Gray points out.

“They waved a gun around.”

Vito fills him in all the details.

Gray admits, “that could have been done better.”

Harborview Medical Center, Thursday September 9th, 9 AM

Dr. Ilyes is wating when they bring in Helen’s boyfriend Slim. The man seems strangely out of it though. His eyes are unfocused. Suspicious he snaps a picture to check he really is a human being. Convinced he begins his examination.

An hour later it is clear the man is suffering severe brain damage and bleeding both within the brain and the nasal cavities. Mill’s results also come back. The swabs show signs of dead microscopic spiders and eggs. His blood has elevated levels of white blood count and IgE.

Ilyes sedates Slim and get back to work on his therapy. He tests them on the eggs and signs are promising. He decides Slim may be the first recipient.

He approaches the man. “The MRIs and the test indicate you are suffering from a considerable amount of internal damage.”

“Ahhh, What?” he slurs.

“You are ill, Mr. Mendes.”

“Okay.” he says without feeling.

“You are suffering from a serious illness right now. Do you have an attorney or family member that we can contact?” Ilyes asks.

“There’s my mom,” He says. Unfortunately he is unable remember her number.

Realizing the extent of the damage, Ilyes asks. “Do you consent to our medical treatment?”

“I guess yeah.”

After getting him to sign off on it, Ilyes turns to the other doctors. “Dr. Grant, Dr. Hall, I think we may need to work on Mr. Mendes. He might not have much time if we do not do something to treat him rapidly. I think he is the worse case. We have the patient consent. I want your opinions on my cocktail.”

Dr. Hall is pessimistic both of Slim’s chances and the drugs. Dr. Grant feels more optimistic. Dr. Carriker tells him, “We should give it a try.”

Ilyes administers the drug cocktail on Mendes at a low level and monitors his status. Throughout the day there no change in his vitals.

Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, 10 AM

Shaw calls Keystone Pharmaceuticals. “Hello, Mrs. Peterson.”

“Hello,” Lisa Peterson says cheerily.

“I’m calling because one of our cases intersects with a possible field study of yours.”

“I don’t think so,” she says firmly.

“Its sort of quick to dismiss,” Shaw replies. “What I have uncovered are some vials that seem to come from your factories. BSNX-9.”

“I’m,” she says hesitantly, “not familiar with that variety.”

“And Telepathine-12?” Shaw asks.

“Where did you get this?” the executive demands.

“There was a woman in one of the local clubs.”

“Describe her,” Lisa says.

“Why? Is this ringing some bells for you?”

“We, um, lost a researcher about a couple months ago,” Lisa explains.

“Lost?” Shaw says. “You know I’m good at finding missing people.”

“Yes,” she admits. “We had hoped to handle this internally.”

“What was her name?” the detective asks.

“Amelia Greenberg.”

“Yeah this person did identify herself as Amelia,” Shaw tells her.

“Hmm, so she still is in the city,” the executive muses.

Shaw decides to fish for more. “You guys done any research into brain spiders?”

Lisa tells her, “we should meet and talk about this.”

“Alright.” They arrange to meet at Shaw’s office in an hour.


Mavis Brooks shows Lisa into Shaw’s office.

After she sits down, Lisa explains about Amelia Greenberg. “She was doing some research on the infection we had found in the Seattle area. It involved microscopic spiders in the brain.”

“Microscopic? Do they do much damage?” Shaw asks, feigning ignorance.

Lisa leans back. “Our research was pretty limited but it suggested in certain circumstances it could wreak significant havoc on a persons brain.”

Shaw levels with her a little. “There have been several deaths recently. They started a little over month ago.”

The possible correlation is not lost on Lisa.

“Is there a chance I could look at her files?” Shaw asks.

“I have the relevant sections here,” she says passing them across the desk.

Shaw tells her about the involvement of the Men in Black and the CDC.

“Oh them,” she says sourly.

“Although I’m working with them I haven’t signed any non disclosure agreement,” Shaw points out. “However I really want to solve this before anyone else gets hurt. If you want to go through me that’s fine but I don’t want people hiding information. I don’t want to be involved in a territorial dispute.”

“We would be very much interested in reacquiring Amelia,” Lisa explains. “She possesses very vital research information.”

“Did she take any drug samples with her?”

“No she must have synthesize them herself.”

They discuss where Amelia could do that but are unable to pin down any likely locations.

“I know this is propitiatory information but you think you could get me a list of laboratory equipment she would need to create Telepathine-12 and the others?” Shaw asks.

“Well I tell you what she would need to synthesize Telepathine-2. We haven’t developed past that yet.”

“I see. Well any details would be help.”

“I’ll have a list sent to you,” the executive tells her.

“Is there a finder’s fee?” Shaw inquires.

“If you can return her.” She adds, “or her research.”

“What is the Telepathine strain?” the detective asks.

Lisa hesitates but tells her, “it is still in the early stage but it is suppose to enhance ones psychic abilities.”

“This is Ambrose Grant territory?”

Lisa makes no comment on that. “We are still exploring the possibilities. It is not ready for human consumption. At least version 2.”

“What’s the connection to the spiders?”

“I have no idea.”

The conversation turns to Amelia’s background.

“Is she a Seattle native?” Shaw asks.

“Yes. She has a sister in the area. We talked to her but she claimed to know nothing about where she might be.”

Shaw looks over the folder. Amelia worked for the company for 9 years. She got her PhD in biochemistry from Berkley and specialized in making drugs from exotic “animals”. She went missing two month ago shortly after starting an investigation of brain spiders. Ketherine, her sister, works as neurologist at Harborview Medical Center. Both of them have houses in Windermere.

Shaw thanks Lisa and gets to work. One of a Kind Investigations runs credit checks on Katherine and Amelia.

Shaw calls Dr. Ilyes. “Hey I have identified the mystery woman from yesterday.” She fills him in on Amelia and Katherine but nothing unusual is found. “You might want to make everyone over there aware of that. If she is in league with her sister she could be a security issue. I would not suggest approaching her yet.”

“I will speak with Agent Gray,” the doctor tells her.

Vito meanwhile decides to check the night clubs for Amelia’s whereabouts.

Harborview Medical Center, 11 PM

As the day passes more and more people come in both infected and prior victims. Ilyes makes sure his day job knows that he is working with the CDC.

Mill meanwhile catches some sleep.

As he dreams, he finds himself walking through some woods where computer parts are sticking out of the trees. A gun shot rings out and he runs towards it. He finds an old man in a hospital bed, bleeding to death. Mill approaches him. He can hear the beeping of machines slowing down as the man dies. Mill leans over and looks the old man in the eyes. “Ambrose?”

The old man’s eyes close and he is alone in the cold woods with a corpse. Then he hears the voice of a little girl crying for help. He walks over and finds a fair haired little girl trapped under a branch.

“Help me!” she cries.

Mill rescues her and she grabs onto him. “Thank you! I was trapped and all alone.”

“You’ll be okay now,” he says. “Its all going to be alright. Its going to be fine. Come with me.”

Mill leads her through the woods searching for a trail. The trees part and they stumble onto a city street.

“Can you hear them whispering?” she asks.

Mill hears nothing. “No. What are they whispering?”

“They are coming,” she explains.

“Can we stop them?”

“No,” she tells him. “You can’t.”

“Don’t worry I’ll protect you,” he says trying to comfort her.

“I can help you,” she tells him.

“What do you mean?”

“I can help you. With them.”

Suddenly Mill feels hundreds of spidery feet all over his head. He curls into ball. “I do need help.”

Mill wakes up as a new patient is wheeled quickly past his room. The man is quivering and suffering convulsions.

Dr. Trevor Sorenson wakes as the patient enters the isolation room. A vague dream of dark haired woman woman melts from his mind.

The CDC team converges on the victim. Ilyes shouts. “I want to try it!”

“Is this another one of those victims?” Trevor asks. “Have you made any progress?”

Ilyes injects the patient. The man calms down and his convulsions subside. Then his vitals flatlines.

“Let’s try to revive him,” Ilyes says. As they try to stimulate his heart, Ilyes and Trevor look on in horror as a large spider crawls out of his ear.

Ilyes swings the defibrillator paddle at it but it lands on the floor. Trevor stomps on it, killing it before it can get under a table.

They collect it. The strange creature has ten legs and the front legs seem to have fingers. On closer examination of the patient it is clear he was dead before he was brought in.

Deciding this wasn’t the fault of his drugs, he asks Mill, “do you consent to an experimental treatment that might at least halt the advancement of symptoms.”

“Whatever you guys you think is best,” he says without much hope.

View
Cold Case, Part IV

Ashwood Heights, Yesler Terrace, Friday May 20th

One of a Kind Investigations starts its stakeout of Ashwood Heights. they form two teams of two, one group taking night and the other the day.

They manage to get Dr. Ilyes to help them the doctor is skeptical about finding Ambrose Grant.

“I’ll tell you why we’re not going to find this person. Its cause he is a fictional character! From a pilot TV show, that was rejected because it made Lost seem sane in comparison!”

Shaw tries to calm him down. “We understand what you are saying Ilyes, but you’ll still help us with the stakeout right?”

“Am I getting paid?” he inquires.

“Yes.”

“Okay. The check better clear, that’s all I’m going to say.”

They quickly learn that out of 50 units, 48 are filled. The apartments hold a mixture of the elderly, single occupants, single mothers, and small families. They find a flier for a fortune teller, Madame Mimi, operating out of Apartment 207. She claims to interpret dreams.

“Con artist,” remarks Robert Mill.

“I interpret dreams too but I get paid a lot more,” Dr. Sorenson comments.

The people in the complex seem very close knit, but there are signs all is not right. People share odd glances and awkward conversations as if there is something being unsaid. They also seem to be sleeping poorly judging by the number of lights on after midnight.

More important for the investigators, there are number of generic people who walk past the complex. The same man with a dog walks past every couple hours, the same woman runs by in a hurry, the same old man feeds the birds night or day. The photographs reveal their inhuman nature, they are Tulpas.

“What’s their interest here? Are they protecting it?” Sorenson asks.

“Seems like a pretty regular patrol,” Shaw says.

However the people inside seem to be actual human beings, even the manager Gordon Fisher. Gordon appears to be in his early 50s though he dyes his hair and beard blond. He seems to spend almost all of his time at the complex.

They decide to target him next.

Yesler Terrace, Saturday May 21st

They shadow Gordon that day, planning to resume their stakeout the following week to see if there are any changes in people’s patterns.

Shaw watches him while he works at the complex. She catches him as he visits the supposedly empty apartment 312. The man inside passes him something but she can’t tell what.

Apartment 312 is an end unit, possibly a good place for Ambrose Grant to hide out, unlike the other empty apartment 120.

Dr. Sorenson follows Gordon as he goes out to the movies. Gordon seems to be a regular at the theater. The staff knows his face and preferences. As he watches Iron Man 2, the doctor mutters, “bad science in this. Technology would just not work like that.”

The reports filter in and the investigators assemble the picture of a man with a pretty boring life where his one escape is going to the movies.

Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, Downtown, Sunday May 22nd

That day they dig into Gordon Fisher’s records and history. Born in 1958 in Seattle, he seems to be relatively normal. He was hired as caretaker in 1982 and has run Millennial Holdings since 1988. In 1990 after Ambrose Grant‘s “death”, he tried to overturn some of the restrictions on the trust for Millennial Housing, likely to make adjustments on how it could be spent. But strangely he abandoned this project a few months later. Around that time he stopped taking as many vacations out of the city. He hasn’t left Seattle since 2000. In terms of family, he was divorced in 1995 and has an estranged son in Oregon. He lives on site in apartment 101. He has no criminal record and his finances are in order.

“He might be letting someone squat and pay him under the table,” Shaw speculates, thinking about the mysterious apartment 312.

Shaw lays out their next step, “from what I’ve seen I don’t think Gordon Fisher is directly involved but he might have papers that we haven’t been able to access. We should keep an eye on 312 and figure out who is living there.”

Ashwood Heights, Yesler Terrace, Tuesday May 24th, 2 A.M.

Dr. Sorenson and Robert Mill wait in the car outside Ashwood Heights. As they wonder how they got stuck with the night watch, their minds both go back to the previous day.

Sorenson recalls Shaw telling him to go with Mill and talk him through his issues.

Mill recalls Shaw telling him , “I want you to be with Sorenson, this is his first stakeout and you know he get a little weird.”

Sorensosn drinks his grande Starbucks drink as he listens to Mill’s heavy metal music.

Mill interrupts his thoughts. “Oh this is the sweet part here, listen to those vocals.”

As he shifts their positions, both men realize that two man have materialized in the back seat of the car.

“Frick who are you?” Mill says. A moment later he realizes that their unlined blank faces mean that they are Tulpas.

A moment later both he and Sorenson are runnign down the street having abandoned their car. The Tulpas are in hot pursuit.

Mill pulls out his phone and speed dial’s Shaw.

“Wha- is it?” she yawns.

Mill speaks hurriedly. “We are being attacked! Help, quick, help.”

“I’m on my way,” she says.

“Keep moving! We’re being chased!” the doctor shouts.

Shaw hears sounds of running over the phone. Mill’s voice shouts, “we’re being chased! They were in the car with us. Now we’re running. Frick, I don’t know what street we are on, where are we at?”

Mill yells to the doctor, “You have a gun Sorenson?”

“Yes but I’m not going to go randomly shooting.”

“I’ll randomly shoot. Give me the gun,” he commands.

“No.”

“Give me the gun man,” Mill pleads.

“No,” Sorenson says.

The psychiatrist starts to pull ahead. Mill feeling them on his heels pulls out his pepper spray. The two pass a closed supermarket and spot an open convenience store ahead.

Mill glances back and sees the Tulpas right behind him. He runs for the store.

Sorenson runs a few more blocks before he has lost both Mill and the Tulpas. Worried, he begins to looping back to the car.


As Mill enters the convenience store he dials 911. The Tulpas enter behind him and he runs up to the clerk and shouts, “help there are two men chasing me!”

The man at the counter says, “What?”, as the phone returns a busy signal.

Mill turns around as the two Tulpas lung for him. He sprays the lead one in the eyes. It screams and toppled into a rack of snacks as it grabs for its eyes.

The other one grapples Mill. Mill sprays it as well but it has no effect. As he struggles the phone drops from his hand. Robert continues to shout where he is but as it hits the ground the call ends.

The Tulpa wrests the pepper spray from his hands as the other one pours gatorade into its eyes in an attempt to wash away the pepper spray. Mill glances at the clerk. He sees a Sandman feeding of his memories. Then the Tulpas pin him to the ground.


Sorenson gets back to the car. Its empty but he keys are still in the ignition. He starts it and drives down the road, looking for signs of Mill. He spots the Tulpas dragging him out of the conveneince store. He is bound in duct tape and struggling ineffectually.

Sorenson guns the engine and tries to run one of them over but he can’t get close enough without hitting Mill.

Sorenson stops the car and fires his gun at the Tulpa, wounding it. It drops Mill on his head. Mill attempts to shout but his mouth is covered in duct tape.

As the Tulpa comes after him, Sorenson drives forward toward it, slamming into it at 20 mph. It tumbles over the car and disappears.

The doctor drives after Mill and the remaining Tulpa who is moving surprisingly fast. He shoots at it wounding it as well. It drops Mill in pain. Then the doctor notices that the one he hit earlier is climbing along the side of the car. He tries to swipe it off the side but instead sideswipes a street light and smashes into a telephone pole. The Tulpa is thrown off the car and into a brick wall. It disintegrates.

Meanwhile Shaw arrives at apartment complex. Her mind is slightly fuzzy from the BSNX-7, but she hears the guns shots of Sorenson’s combat. She follows them and comes across the scene as the wounded Tulpa tries to drag off Mill. She shoots it through the heart. It lurches and crumples into a pile of clothes.

She gets out of car and surveys the area. No one else is around. She hurried over to the car and checks Sorenson.

The doctor is groggy and trying to collapse the air bag. Mill’s car seems drive-able.

“Are you okay to drive?” Shaw asks.

“Yeah. I’m. Yeah,” the shaken psychiatrist says.

“Take it slow and try to drive it back to the office.”

“Okay, okay.”

Sorenson turns to Mill. “Sorry about your car.”

Then she grabs Mill and pulls him into her car.

In transit, Tuesday May 24th, 2:30 A.M.

Shaw calls Dr. Ilyes on the way to the office. “I realize your probably sleeping but the stakeout went really bad. The boys were attacked. You want to meet up at the office?”

“What were they attacked by?” he asks. “Well okay I will meet you at the office and you can brief me there.”

She then turns to Mill. “I’m going to remove your duct tape. This is going to hurt.”

“Mmmm!!” he screams as it is removed.

Once freed of the tape, he tells her, “sorry, I botched it. I wasn’t paying attention.”

“These things happen.”

Mill tells her what happened. He complains, “Sorenson wouldn’t give me his gun.”

“Maybe next time you should take the drugs,” she advises.

Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, Downtown, Tuesday May 24th, 3:30 A.M.

Dr. Ilyes comes into the office to find Sorenson beat up and bruised. He checks him for concussions.

“Where did you park the car?” Shaw asks the psychiatrist.

“In the usual spot,” he says.

Mill meanwhile voices his worries about the insurance claim.

“So what happened?” Dr. Ilyes asks.

Shaw is also curious. “What did you guys run into?”

Sorenson takes the lead. “We were doing the stakeout, watching the complex and then two Tulpas were in the car with us.”

“Tulpas? So we are dealing with Tibetan monks now?” Ilyes asks.

“That’s what the Chieron group classifies the doppelgangers.” Shaw explains.

Sorenson continues. “So they appeared in the back seat so we ran out of the car.”

Mill adds, “they might not have just appeared, we might not have noticed them.”

“Guys just appeared in the back seat,” Ilyes mutters incredulously.

“That’s what it seemed like,” Sorenson says. “So I ran off and circled back around the block.” He details his rescue attempt and Shaw’s arrival.

“You are showing signs of considerable disorganized and nonlinear thinking,” Ilyes says.

“What would you have done?” the psychiatrist asks. “These guys were extremely dangerous.”

Mill relays the rough details of his encounter at the convenience store. He mentions that the clerk seemed be attacked by a Sandman.

Shaw seems concerned for the man’s safety. She finds the number for the store. “Let me see if anyone answers.”

Ilyes continues the questioning as she steps out. “So there were Sandmen there.”

“I didn’t anything,” Sorensosn says.

“I want to hear it from you,” he says pointing to Mill.


Shaw steps out of the room and calls the store. A man answers.

“Hello.”

“Hi, I was just passing by and I heard some kind of disturbance at your store,” she lies. “Is everything okay?”

“I’ve been here all night and nothing’s happened.”

“Oh I must have been confused. What was your name?”

“Jerry,” he says.

“Okay Jerry. You didn’t hear anything? Maybe it was another 7-11.”

She gets the location of the nearest other store. “Thanks. Glad everything is okay.”


She returns to find Mill finishing his description of the events at the store. “I turned around and there was a sandman. I don’t know, maybe he was always there. He attacked the store clerk. He might have injured him or hurt him. I don’t know.” Mill turns to Shaw. “Is he okay?”

“Jerry, says he is okay.”

“He’s okay? He probably doesn’t remember anything then?” he asks.

“Nope.”

“And we think Jerry is actually a person?” Mill asks.

“I don’t know. He seemed he had his speech together. He could have been a Tulpa but that seems a long way to go.”

“Yeah, He’s probably fine, they just didn’t want to know what was going on. He’s probably okay.”

Mill finishes his story and Ilyes asks, “Okay so we have Sandmen and we have…Tulpas.”

“Did you not see the file?” Shaw asks passing him a folder.

As he reads over the file, Ilyes asks, “What is the source of these things?”

“Ambrose Grant?” Mill says hesitantly.

Shaw nods. “That’s the theory we are running on.”

“Yes, these may be dream manifestations of his psychic powers,” Sorenson adds.

Mill fidgets. “So if we are going to go, we should go now. Pretty quick I guess.”

“Are you guys okay for that?” Shaw asks, looking at how bruised and nervous they are.

Sorenson applies some final bandages. “I’m fine.”

“I don’t mean just physically boys,” Shaw says.

“Well I have to file an insurance claim here,” Mill says.

“Erin’s good with that,” Shaw recommends.

Mill thinks about Shaw’s question. “Well I’m not up for it, but we’ve got to do it now right? If we are going to go, we’ve got to go before they bring in more security. We have to strike right now. We can’t wait until tomorrow. We need to go this minute, probably in someone else’s car. I think.”

Shaw presents an alternative. “Unless we wait until they calm down. If we wait a week.”

“What if they move any stuff out of there?”

“Well its been there for over 20 years. So I really doubt they would move anything.”

Sorenson weighs in. “The only thing is they could increase security and make it much much more harder to get in.”

“That’s why I think we need to give them time to relax,” Shaw says. “I mean they know who we are.”

“Why aren’t they attacking us at home?” Sorenson asks.

“I think there is a range issue. I don’t know. Either they are going to come after us in which case we need to prepare ourselves or we let them have their surge and then go in. At this point I don’t think we know enough about where to go. Unless we go up to 312.”

Ilyes speculates. “If these things are Tulpas then it would take considerable mental concentration for these things even to exist. Tulpas come from Tibetan myth, where they are the concentrated will of a dying monk.”

Mill and Sorenson defer to Shaw on the final decision. She decides to send a message to Infinity and get his advice. A return message follows shortly: ‘Lie low for a week. Maybe you should leave town for a little bit.’

Shaw tells the others, “alright, let’s shut down the company for a week.”

“Well Sorenson might be stuck here,” Mill warns.

“They don’t come out during the day,” Sorenson says. “I’ll just get home before dark. Maybe I’ll stay in a hotel.”

“I’ll stay with my parents,” Mill says.

“Yeah I’ll stay with my dad,” Shaw tells them.

With that they go into hiding.

Hillcrest Mental Health Center, Greenwood, May 26th

As the week passes, the investigators recover and regain their composure. Robert Mill takes the opportunity to buy some new pistols.

At the Hillcrest Center, an upset secretary bursts into Dr. Sorenson‘s office. She complains to him about the mess he left the file system in. "I don’t even know where this file is supposed to go!"

“Which file is it?” he asks. “Maybe I can remember where it goes.”

She hands over a dusty discolored file.

“Oh I know exactly where it goes. I’ll put it back. I’m sorry I causes some trouble with that. You’ve got to admit that there is a time period where the file system gets really-”

“Tell me about it,” she says as she leaves.

Sorenson looks closely at the file. It is a grant renewal proposal from Dr. Moorcock. The director apparently is expounding on his previous research, hoping for more money. The file talks about unlocking psychic abilities using new drugs mixtures such as dimethyltryptmine (DMT) and a Harmala alkaloid called “telepathine extract.”

Sorenson recalls telepathine extract from his time at Verdant Technologies. Moorcock lists his assistant in the report: Dr. Barbara Wintergreen. The same woman who accidentally sent him the letter that inadvertently changes his life. In the end he seems to have failed to escape Verdant and their research.

Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, Downtown, May 30th

After a week of relative relaxation, the investigators return to work. Erin lets Shaw know she enjoyed the vacation time. Shaw, herself, is bouncy and eager to get back on the case.

“I hope everybody is prepared,” Dr. Ilyes says. “So what is the plan?”

“I think we need to go in and find what is in Unit 213,” Shaw says.

“You mean 312,” corrects Mill.

“Yeah sorry, vacation.”

“You want to talk to the fortune teller first?” he asks.

“Well you two are made, so yeah.”

Ashwood Heights, Yesler Terrace, May 30th, 4 P.M.

Shaw walks up to the fortuneteller’s door. She adjusts the wire and rubs her eyes. The insomnia from the BSNX-7 was getting to her.

The garishly dressed Madame Mimi lets her in. Silks cover the ceilings and walls and mystic baubles decorate the room. The fortuneteller invites Shaw to sit on a comfy sofa chair in the center of room.

“Oh I thought I’d be sitting next to a crystal ball or something,” she says.

“Oh no no no,” the woman says fake sounding accent. “Tell me about your dreams.”

“That’s the thing I’ve been having a lot of insomnia recently. I can’t even get to sleep. I know its not quite your area but I was hoping you could help. Do you see anything about me Madame Mimi.”

Mimi begins to advise her. Shaw easily picks up on her cold reading tricks. The fortuneteller suggests that if Shaw slept here that she could get a better insight into her problems.

“Like right now?” she asks.

“I find it is very easy to drift off here,” Mimi explains.

“Alright, do you mind if I use the restroom first? I’ve been having a lot of trouble sleeping but I’ll give it a try.”

In the restroom Shaw says into wire, “engaging camera.” She then adjust her camera to watch anyone standing over her.

After a bit of lying on the sofa, Shaw realizes that Madame Mimi has gone into other room. It sounds like she is sleeping. Shaw tries to sneak up on her but she wake as she tries the door.

“Oh, did you sleep well?” she says getting up.

“I wasn’t able to get to sleep,” Shaw explains. “What were you doing? I thought you would be using crystals or something.”

“I commune with you in your dreams,” the fortuneteller explains.

Shaw doesn’t try to cover up her freaked out response. “What do you see?”

“Unfortunately since you couldn’t sleep, I didn’t see anything.”

Shaw questions the fortuneteller more closely, learning that she gets impressions of those who sleep nearby. “Do you get impressions of other people, like your neighbors?”

“I try to avoid that,” Mimi says.

Shaw tries to get her trust. “I know I know but it hard for people who are sensitive. I have a cousin.”

Mimi confides that she does see things from her neighbors, both private and disturbing things.

“Disturbing?” Shaw asks.

“I shouldn’t really talk about it,” Mimi says, cutting off the conversation. Shaw notices however that her eyes went up looking to the thrid floor. And in the direction opposite apartment 312.

Shaw thanks her and pays her for her time.

Ashwood Heights, Yesler Terrace, May 30th, 5 P.M.

Before going back to the office, Shaw decides to check out what else is on the third floor. She takes the stairs up and walks around the level. It is fairly quiet. She passes only a young woman in the hall. She does notices a young man staring intently at the other woman however. He ducks into his apartment when he sees Shaw. The detective notes that his apartment, 302, is in the right direction for what ever was bothering Madame Mimi.

Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, Downtown, 6 P.M.

Shaw finishes explaining what see saw at Madame Mimi’s. “So I don’t think the fortuneteller is involved. If she has any real psychic abilities, its more of the effect of living in the area.” As for the disturbing dreams she says, “When I went up there I saw this guy who kind of gave me the creeps looking at this other girl. He was in 302.”

The investigators discuss how to approach the apartment complex. They decide to look into the records and see who lives in 302 as well as what is going on in 312. With a little digging they find that the other vacant unit, 120, has only been empty a couple months. 312 however hasn’t been rented since 2005. People move out relatively infrequently but not to a suspicious level.

Dr. Ilyes suggests using a dummy repossession claim to find out who is in 312.

Dr. Sorenson suggests, “lets pull a Supernatural and use some fake FBI badges.”

“Have you been doing your research on TV?” Shaw admonishes.

“Yes, I’ve had some really good ideas from that.”

As for apartment 302, it belongs to a Jarette Costa. There doesn’t seem to be anything special about him.

They decide to check out 312 first. Mill suggest break and entering. Shaw decides that the two of them will go in, pretending to be delivering a package. They get a rental car, paid in cash. Shaw bills that and Mill’s car repairs to Keystone Pharmaceuticals.

Ashwood Heights, Yesler Terrace, May 31st, 9 A.M.

Shaw and Mill set the box down by the door to 312. Shaw knocks. The two of them can hear someone moving inside.

“I think someone is in a bed getting up,” Mill says.

“Alright lets wait and see who they are,” Shaw instructs.

The door opens a crack. A man with scraggly beard and wearing boxer shorts asks them what they want.

Shaw smiles and says, “hello. We have a delivery.”

“I don’t have a delivery. You must have the wrong place.”

“Oh I’m sorry. What was your name sir?” Shaw flips through clipboard while Mill stealthily takes a picture.

“John.”

“Mr…,” Shaw prompts him.

“Uh, Smith,” he says.

“Mr. Smith, you are right this is not for you. This is 312 right?”

“Yeah.”

Shaw looks at Mill. “You know what this says avenue and the sign said street.”

“Frick we’re going to be late,” Mill complains.

Shaw turns to ‘John Smith’. “I’m really sorry for disturbing you, sir.”

As they walk away Shaw realizes where she saw ‘John’ before. He is wanted for a convenience store robbery.

Robert tries to show her the clear picture he got but Shaw stays in character. On way out they determine that there one other place Ambrose Grant could be. As a delivery man enters the storage basement, they realize he may be underground.

Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, Downtown, 12 P.M.

Shaw suggests tipping off the cops to the crook hiding there. They could use that as a distraction while they go into the basement.

“So we think this basement is where it is at then?” Mill asks.

“Probably,” she says.

“What about apartment 302?”

“He could be just a creepy guy causing weird dreams. I mean maybe he’s a serial killer but then perhaps the cops will catch him when they find the other guy.”

Mill is still worried. “Won’t there be too much action going on? Do we want to be doing something illegal while the cops are there?”

“No it should be fine.”

The investigators decide that they should all go in together.

But Dr. Ilyes objects. “While the cops are conducting a raid?”

“Yes,” Shaw tries to explain. “I know all of their procedures. Its a raid upstairs and we’ll be underground.”

“And if a fight breaks out and there’s gunfire, the cops won’t notice that?” he points out.

“Yes they will but I’d rather have the cops come and arrest us rather than have what is down there get us.”

“We’re not going to twist your arm,” Robert adds. “Its very understandable not wanting to go down there.”

Shaw points out that this eventuality is covered in his consulting liability waiver. “If you don’t come along you will of course deny all knowledge of what we are up to.”

“Of course. I’ll just happened to be taking a jog in the area, in case something can and does go wrong when the police notice you attempting a burglary.”

“Its not a burglary,” Sorenson says. “We’d have to steal something for it to be a burglary.”

“I’ll be there to bail you out,” Dr. Ilyes says.

They quickly prepare to go in. Shaw sends a message to Infinity: “We are going in within the hour. Using the police as a distraction. If you can add to the distraction that would be good.”

She also injects herself with some more BSNX-7. Mill grabs his doll. Shaw sets up a wire so Ilyes can listen in in case things go badly.

Ashwood Heights, Yesler Terrace, May 31st, 1 P.M.

As the cops head into the complex, Sorenson leads them in a final pep talk. “Okay team we can do this. We’ve prepared, we’ve studied, we’re ready for this.”

As everyone else is absorbed with the police raid, they slip into the basement. It seems to be just an underused storage area. A few boxes sit along one wall and there seems to be no one about.

Shaw however makes out a wavery image over one wall. Mill thinks where he would put the trigger to a secret door. He pushes a brick and the wall shifts open. Dr. Sorenson however still can’t see it.

“Its like those dreams I’ve been having,” Robert says. “I’ve seen this before.”

“I don’t see why people would be coming down here,” Sorenson says oblivious. “There’s no reason-”

Shaw stops him. “Shh. Its right here.”

As she pulls him through she adds, “Maybe you should take those drugs.”

“Or get a doll,” Mill comments.


Past the illusionary wall, they find a dark hallway, lit by a single flickering florescent light.

“We’re going down, its dark,” Sorenson says over the wire.

They pass banks of old computer equipment. Shaw snaps a picture of the hall and sends it to Ilyes. As she does she realizes there are several blurry silhouettes in the picture.

Ilyes texts back, “I think there may be some sort of invisible-”

Shaw doesn’t catch the rest as she puts the phone away and draws her gun. “Got one coming in. There’s a figure there.”

Soon Mill can also see the figures of three nurses coming down the hall. The investigators get their lights out. Shaw thinks for moment and puts the gun away. She readies herself for hand to hand combat.

Sorenson decides to inject himself with BSNX-7. The nurses become visible to him. They are eerily identical and armed with scalpels.

As they come in range, Shaw grabs the arm of one and pulls scalpel from her hand, tossing it to the ground. The nurse grapples her instead.

Mill runs interference, keeping the others from getting at Sorenson. The nurses lung at him but he is too quick and leaves one prone on the ground.

Sorenson swings his heavy flashlight at the nurse grappling Shaw but fails to strike with any force. Shaw throws the doppelganger into another nurse. One falls but the other one swings at Mill ineffectually.

The doctor takes another swing. He dents his flashlight on the cold stone wall. As the nurse gets back up, Shaw goes punches her in the kidneys. She cries out in pain.

The battle becomes a flurry of stabs and swings. Sorenson swings his flashlight club again but misses his target. Instead he shears off the end of the flashlight and spills the batteries everywhere.

“I thought this could be used as a weapon,” he exclaims.

Shaw disarms another nurse. She retaliates by scratching at Shaw’s face.

Mill continues to provide interference as Sorenson pulls his pocket knife. Shaw swings wildly at a doppelganger and is hit instead by the nurse. There is a crunching noise.

Elsewhere Ilyes hears the audio feed cut out. Worried he gets out his medical bag and rushes over to the complex. He soon makes it to the basement where he can hear a muffled combat going on.

In the dim light Sorenson grabs a scalpel from the floor. Shaw attacks the doppelganger again. This time she feels her fists sink into the thing’s flesh. The doppelganger screams and starts dissolving.

Sorenson and Shaw gang up on another. The doctor shouts, “come and get some more of that!” as Shaw pummels the Tulpa into the wall of electronics. A spark of electricity back lights the nurse and she explodes into a cloud of ash.

Then the final nurse gets lucky and stabs Mill.

In the storage area Ilyes tries to find secret door. “They should have mentioned how to find this secret door,” he mutters.

Sorenson slices the nurses neck open just before Shaw swings at her. Shaw stumbles and collides with Sorenson. They go down in a tumble. Mill jumps in front of them and wards off the doppelganger’s attack.

Sorenson gets back up and finishes the nurse with a final slice of the scalpel. He her head falls off and she fades away into nothing.

Ilyes takes a close look at the masonry. As he rubs his hand across the wall, it goes right through. Disbelievingly he walks through the wall. He quickly catches up with his allies.

“Hey what are you doing here?” Shaw asks him.

“The line went out. You guys got into a fight and it went out. I came to help.”

Shaw rubs her shoulder. “Yeah one of the nurses punched out the wire.”

“Nurses?”

“Did you see anyone coming?” Mill asks.

“No. I could barely hear any noises. You were just in a fight?”

“Yes,” Sorenson replies. “Just moments ago.”

“I could barely hear anything,” the doctor explains.

“You may need to arm yourself,” Sorenson advises.

“I’m armed,” Ilyes says gesturing to his kit. “I’ve got scalpels, resuscitation pads, and a syringe full of tranquilizers.”

Ilyes helps make sure they are okay physically, then they press on. Mill offers Sorenson his flashlight, but the psychiatrist declines. As he kicks the broken flashlight as they leave. “I thought these things could take a beating.”

Under Ashwood Heights, Yesler Terrace, May 31st, 1:10 P.M.

They pass through several more room of darkened computer equipment. Then they finda doorway. Inside they glimpse an old hospital bed surrounded by medical equipment.

“Stop!” they hear behind them.

They turn and Shaw says, “Dr. Warden.”

The man is dressed in a white coat and hospital gear. “Stop there!” he repeats.

Shaw snaps a picture of him. As expected it is blurry. Mill moves to the front of the group to protect the others.

“I can’t let you go in there,” Warden says.

“You’ve been taking care of him for a long time,” Shaw replies.

“He needs his rest.”

“He needs his rest for 20 years?” Dr. Sorenson jokes.

“Now go,” Warden command. Most of the investigators don’t react but Dr. Ilyes suddenly feels like he should leave the area. He remembers the pep talk and fights off the creature’s influence.

“You know we can’t do that Warden,” Mill says. “His wife wants him to have eternal rest. She knows what’s best for him. Not you.”

Sorenson adds, “his dreams are dangerous.”

“You’re not even a real person Warden,” Shaw hurls at him.

“I’m real enough.”

“Well you are in real trouble,” Sorenson says.

Warden smiles. “I think you have that the wrong way.”

Suddenly the psychiatrist is lifted into air and thrown into a wall.

As he crumples to the ground, Ilyes pulls out the revival paddles from his bag. He runs forward and tries to tag Warden with them. The doppelganger dodges to the side.

Then he knocked back by Sorenson who launched himself at him. As the two grapple Shaw rushes over to help bear him to the ground. Warden struggles, trying to wrench Sorenson’s arm.

Mill meanwhile moves into the other room. He fins a withered old man who can only be Ambrose Grant. He leans over him. Suddenly he finds his mind under assault. He feels distant, shoved aside in his own body.

“Clear,” Ilyes says as he hits Warden with the paddles. The doppelganger is stunned by the charge. Sorenson and Shaw take a hit as well. the psychiatrist tumbles to the floor unconscious.

Shaw however pins the creature. Warden seems to be losing strength. His flesh begins to sag and one of his eyes turns red.

Then Mill walks back into the room and draw his guns. He takes careful aim at his friends.

As Shaw pounds Warden into the floor, she shouts to Ilyes, “I got him, help Sorenson!”

Ilyes quickly revives the fallen investigator with smelling salts.

“Did we win?” the psychiatrist groggily says.

In the doorway, Mill snaps back into control of his body. He throws the guns away from him. “Its Ambrose, get him!”

As he runs back into the room, Shaw feels Warden’s head crack like an overripe melon.

Mill returns to the psychic’s body. Sudden he can feel the man’s mind burning into his own. He maintains his focus and keeps the paralyzed man out of his head. Just then Ilyes rushes in and injects Warden with a tranquilizer. Ambrose slips into an induced coma.

Shaw picks herself off the floor where Warden’s body is rapidly decomposing.

Under Ashwood Heights, Yesler Terrace, May 31st, 1:15 P.M.

Dr. Ilyes looks over his patient for a few minutes and tells Shaw that they should be able to move figures he can move Ambrose Grant. They will need a large vehicle however. “I could get a medical service to move him.”

Shaw mulls having Keystone Pharmaceuticals pick him up but decides but decides to contact Infinity first.

Dr. Sorenson sits down. “I don’t feel so good.”

Robert Mill ask, “you okay man?”

Shaw walks away and calls her company line. “Infinity? If want a way in on Ambrose you’d better talk to me now.”

After a moment she has an incoming call. She answers and Infinity says, “I’m not actually listening in on your phone calls”

“Really,” she says insincerely. “I have Ambrose. I have clients who want to take him soon. He is not that cooperative so I don’t know how you want to question him. I’m also curious what you are going to pay.”

“I can arrange a meeting. I can also arrange a vehicle if need be.”

Shaw gets down to business. “Where would be the meeting location and how long would you need with Ambrose? How will you guarantee the safety of my people.”

There is a slight hesitation. “Keep Ambrose for now. I want to talk to you about what you see down there.”

Shaw turns to Ilyes. “How long can you keep him under doctor?”

He thinks for a moment and says, “in his current condition, we can safely keep unconscious for 48 hours. After that I would need a hospital to safely maintain the coma.”

“Start prepping him for transport. We’ll be leaving in a few hours.”

As Ilyes takes care of Ambrose and Sorenson, Shaw asks Infinity to get them a van that evening. They arrange to meet at Frank’s old office. Infinity says he will be there at midnight as he is outside the city.

Shaw tells Infinity, “Send me a ping on my cell when the van arrives.”

As Mill and Shaw discuss what to do about Ambrose, Ilyes tries to use the existing equipment to determine what makes Ambrose different. He finds some strange brainwave activity, even in his sedated state.

Shaw tells Mill, “I hope to have some better ideas about options after talking to Infinity. But if you want to talk to VI you could see if he has any ideas.”

“I’d also like to talk to Doretta again,” Mill adds.

“Not a bad idea,” she says. Then she directs him to document the area first.

Shaw takes pictures of the old computer equipment as Sorenson and Iyes help Mill sift through the computer system. Using an antiquated terminal they sort through the strange encrypted files. Each file corresponds to an apartment in the complex stored on huge rolls of magnetic tape. There are thousand pages of information here, all written in a homebrew computer language. They decide to grab the tapes. They determine that the files are not supposed to accessed via the erminal but instead by the electronic linkages that were on Ambrose’s head.

As they search they also come across some old worn journals. The books are written in Cyrillic and German, which no one knows. They put them aside for now.

Shaw asks Ilyes how they might sneak Ambrose out.

“I have a crash cart,” he explains. “I think we should just wheel him out on the gurney and I can tell people my patient is suffering from a diabetic coma.”

Ashwood Heights, Yesler Terrace, May 31st, 8 P.M.

The team wheels Ambrose out of the apartment complex. A small U-haul truck is pulled up in front. Shaw goes around to the driver’s seat.

V.I. is waiting there. “Hey I’m told you needed a truck.”

“Yeah. Hey, Mill wants to talk to you.” As Mill takes him aside, she gets into the driver’s seat. The doctors load up Ambrose in the back.

Mill takes the journals and tapes to his car. As he is packing them in, V.I. probes him, “I didn’t get a lot of details. I just heard you needed a truck and were transporting a person.”

“Yes,” he says. “Shaw’s going to handle that end. I need your advice on some tapes here from a fairly old computer.”

“Wow,” the young says at the massive magnetic reels.

“I’m not really sure how to access them,” Mil explains.

“I don’t know either. I’d have to ask around. I’m not really skilled with old computers.”

“Okay. We also have these journals. These are German and the others are Cyrillic, so it must be in Russian.”

“I know a little German,” V.I. admits.

“Do you know anyone who can translate them?” the detective asks.

“I know some people. It shouldn’t be hard.” He looks over the books. “These are pretty old.”

As they close up the truck V.I. asks, “who’s the guy?”

“He’s a guy in the case we’ve been working on. I’m not interested in him. I’m more interested in these items here. They could tell us a lot about the Tulpas and other things. They could unlock a lot of mysteries.”

The monster hunter mulls that. “I would have thought Infinity would be interested in this. In this computer stuff.”

“Seems reasonable. I think we want to take a look at them first.”

Shaw drives the U-Haul to the meeting spot and set Ambrose up in the old office.

The old office of One of a Kind Investigations, Downtown, June 1st, 12:08 A.M.

A black muscle car pulls up in front of the office. Inside Shaw, Mill, and Ilyes get ready.

A woman steps out of the car. She is thin with dark skin and long curly hair sticking out in all directions. As she enters she asks, “So what did you find?”

Shaw surmises this is Infinity. “We’ve got him unconscious. He was very dangerous even in his paralyzed state.”

Shaw shows her the video and pictures of the facility under the apartment complex.

“Interesting,” Infinity says.

“Does it make any sense to you?” she asks.

“Not yet. I need to have a look at the machine itself.”

“We are under contract to recover him,” Shaw explains. “I’m sure they would like to look at the machinery too. There is no reason you couldn’t as well but I would like to know a little more about this first. I’m dubious about giving him to Keystone.”

The strange woman bluntly says, “no one would probably ever see him again.”

“Well no one saw him for 20 years, he still did a whole lot of nasty stuff.”

Infinity coldly says, “my guess is given the trouble they had last time, they will remove his brain and section it.”

“So we’d be committing murder,” Shaw grimly says.

“That would probably be the best option for him.”

“What do you mean?”

Infinity continues, “alternatively they don’t kill him and just experiment on him. Figure out what makes him special.”

“What does make him special?” Shaw asks, curious.

Ilyes interjects, “he does have abnormally high brain activity even in his present state. His brain is way more active, hyperactive even. It doesn’t match the pattern of a schizophrenic but then again I’d have to run some MRIs in order get a better idea.”

“He possesses some sort of enhanced levels of psychic ability,” Infinity explains.

“Inherent or learned?” Mill inquires.

“I’d expect a measure of both.”

“What connection does he have with the house next door?” Shaw asks.

Infinity pauses for a moment. “I’m speculating, but I guess his abilities prevented him from being completely affected by it and somehow it either spurred or caused further development of his psychic abilities.”

“Why is he doing this stuff?” Mills asks.

Infinity shrugs.

“What do you think we aught to do?” he asks.

“That’s for you to decide,” she tells them.

“We can’t just let him go of course. Handing him to Keystone seems a little dicey. We could kill him but we’re not going to do that. Its not clear what other options we have.”

Shaw stops Mill’s ramble. “You don’t seem to be interested in Ambrose. What is your interest in all of this?”

“I want to discover what he found out,” she explains. “But as you said he is dangerous. So I can’t find it out from him.”

Ilyes offers to wake up Ambrose but Mill cautions that the psychic can control minds.

“What languages do you speak?” Shaw asks.

Infinity seems surprised. “I can translate most languages. Why do you ask?”

Shaw explains, “Keystone didn’t specify what they wanted done with the machinery and records we found. While I’m sure they would pay for them, we’d like to know what is in them too. You have the skills to access them. Perhaps we could work together on those? My suggestion is that you go over to the facility and take a look at the machinery itself before that scene becomes inviolable. We can meet again tomorrow night to look over the records. Of course we would like some compensation as I believe I mentioned.”

Infinity pulls out a new smartphone and types into it. Her face becomes blank as if she was concentrating very hard. After a moment she says, “I’ve added what I think should be an adequate payment to your accounts.”

After Infinity leaves, discussion turns to what to do next. No one entirely trusts the mysterious woman. Shaw suggests talking to Doretta first. Then there is the question of what to do with Ambrose.

“I’m less adverse to taking him off the machines and letting nature take its course,” Mill says.

Dr. Ilyes however is much less happy with that solution. They decide to watch the old man for now.

Mill asks, “are we are not going to give Infinity the tapes and journals?”

Shaw explains they will lend her them to decipher them. To Mill’s continued mistrust, she says, “I think as long as we cover ourselves, we can take one girl. Even if she is a world class hacker.”

“I don’t trust Infinity and her intentions with this stuff,” Mill replies.

Shaw suggests making copies of the journals and bringing only one tape to the meeting.

June 1st

Shaw tries to sleep but between insomnia and bad dreams, she is exhausted. She trades off with Ilyes for guard duty around 3 A.M. She does note that Infinity deposited roughly what they are charging Keystone.

The teams visits Doretta Teesdale’s house several times but she fails to appear. There are no cold spots or other anomalies.

“Maybe she’s a manifestation of Ambrose,” Shaw comments.

“Oh my gosh it was his subconscious trying to put him out of his misery because he didn’t want to be controlled like this,” Dr. Sorenson says.

Mill contacts V.I. and asks him to see what the Tulpa activity is like.

A few hours later he tells him, “we haven’t seen as many of the doppelgangers.”

“Any or as many?” Mill asks.

“I think we’ve had a couple sightings. But yeah most of them are gone.”

“I guess there are doppelgangers that are not Grant’s,” he concludes.

The old office of One of a Kind Investigations, Downtown, June 2nd, 12:02 A.M.

Infinity enters Frank’s office again, this time to meet with all of the investigators.

“I looked over the machinery,” she says. “You took the magnetic recordings.”

“Yeah we have one of them here,” Shaw explains. “Will you be able to read them?”

“I think they have what I am looking for.”

“What’s that?” the detective asks.

Infinity hesitates. “I’m looking for a key.”

“A key? Like to some sort of program?”

“Or a code?” Sorenson asks.

“Yes,” Infinity replies.

“I’m sorry could you be more vague?” Shaw says.

Dr. Iyles interrupts, “I kind of get it. This computer in the basement is an absolute prodigy of early computer design.”

Infinity disregard what he says and replies, “I’m looking for a key from this machine that would work in the machine you found under Hillcrest. Is that clearer?”

“What does the machine do under Hillcrest?” Sorenson asks. “We don’t want you to do anything that would hurt anyone.”

“It won’t hurt anyone, what I’m trying to do,” she says. “And I won’t be using that terminal.”

Ilyes signals that he understands what she is saying to Shaw.

“So what do these journals say?” Shaw asks directing her to the books on the table. “Is that not what you are looking for?”

Infinity begins to pour over the journals. As she does she spaces out again.

The group whispers among themselves. Shaw and Mill in particular are suspicious acting strangely moody. Sorenson notices that behind Infinity’s high collar, on the back of her neck is something strange, perhaps a tattoo. Mill clearly makes out a dataport.

“Hey Shaw can I talk to you for a minute?” Mill whispers.

They go off and chat quietly about what he saw.

Meanwhile the doctors continue to question Infinity.

“Where did you acquire all of this knowledge of technology?” Sorenson asks.

“Former life,” she says calmly. She picks up another journal.

“So those Russian and German journals, are they military technical journals?” Ilyes asks.

She puts down a book and picks up another. “The German ones are.”

“West or East German?” he asks.

“Nazi,” she says coldly. She looks at the last journal.

“Nazi?”

“I’ve seen some movies about those things,” Sorenson says nervously. “Not very palatable.”

Ilyes speculates. “OSS was working with Nazi researchers but they didn’t really invest in computer science.”

“No, this is brain research,” Infinity explains, putting the book down.

“And the Russian journals?”

“The same with some computer work as well.”

In the other room, Mill says, “I don’t know if you noticed but she’s a cyborg or something. She has a digital thing in the back of her head.”

Shaw seems to believe him but isn’t quite willing to turn on her. After short back and forth, they return to the main room.

“So you’ve translated them?” Shaw asks.

“Yes. They are research journals on brain activity, psychic research, and computer technology.” Infinity relays some specific information from the journals.

“Research into the mind could be helpful to me,” Sorenson says.

“These don’t have what I’m looking for. You can keep them.”

“Thanks,” he says. “I’m a specialist in cognitive matters so I might be able to glean something from them. The translation will be hard though.”

Ilyes warns the other doctor about the disturbing details likely included the journals.

Shaw reluctantly tells Infinity her doubts. “I’m having a lot of trouble…you’ve helped us out and you haven’t done anything distrustful but we don’t know what is on those disks. We know Ambrose’s powers are very strong. I don’t feel comfortable handing them over to you.”

Infinity says calmly,“I can compensate you if that would make you feel better.”

“Its not really that I can give you back the money but-”

Infinity cuts her off. “Perhaps we should talk about this at a later point.”

“What you mean?”

“Hold onto them. Keep them safe. We’ll talk in a few months.”

“Alright,” Shaw says reluctantly. “Okay.”

“That sounds good,” Mill agrees.

The old office of One of a Kind Investigations, Downtown, June 2nd, 12:12 A.M.

After Infinity leaves, Robert Mill says, “all I know I don’t trust this Infinity person. Not at all. Even though she hasn’t done anything other than spying on us at this point.”

Shaw tells them, “one last person I’d like to talk to before dealing with Ambrose is Frank.”

Ilyes adds, “as for this key, I think she is referring to is an encryption key. That is to say the operating system of Ambrose’s computer is the same as the Hillcrest computer.”

Shaw shakes her head. “The thing in the basement of the Hillcrest center is nothing like what we saw at the apartments.”

“The cubes?” Mill says.

“Yes, the cubes,” Shaw confirms.

Sorenson adds, “they are very dangerous.”

They fill Ilyes in on their findings under the Hillcrest Center.

“The fact of the matter is that we are dealing with something that is the intersection of Nazi research, soviet psychic research, and the CIA’s MKULTRA project,” Ilyes explains. “Its pretty safe to assume that there are some extremely valuable encryption protocols.”

“It has to be alien technology,” Sorenson says.

“Does it? Really?” Mill asks.

“How is Frank doing doctor?” Shaw asks, changing the direction of the conversation. D.r Sorenson says he is doing well. They arrange to meet him early the next day.

Hillcrest Mental Health Center, Greenwood, June 2nd, 9 A.M.

As they sit in Sorenson’s offce, the psychiatrist leans over and says, “Well we found Ambrose, Frank.”

The old man says, “Oh right I was looking for him.”

“Yes we found him in a coma,” the Sorenson explains. “He is on life support.”

“Oh,” Frank says worried.

Dr. Sorenson continues, “and it seems as if he’s able to affect others with his mind even in his paralyzed state. We have him heavily sedated.”

“Good idea.”

“We are trying to decide where to go next. If we pull the plug on him or turn him over to the Cheiron group. I’m sure they would pay more for him alive rather than dead but he might be dangerous either way.”

“They-they are interested in that stuff,” Frank states.

Sorenson asks his advice.

Frank mulls it over. “That’s a hard question.”

“I know. He may have been responsible by everyone affected by the Sandmen. He might be responsible for what happened to you.”

Frank says, “then I suppose you have to pull the plug if he is that dangerous.”

When the doctor mentions that they don’t know what Keystone would do with him, Frank adds, “that would probably be worse.”

Sorenson sighs. “I expect they don’t have moral concerns about what to do to him. It might be an act of mercy to kill him.”

“Then you should pull the plug,” Frank tells him.

The old office of One of a Kind Investigations, Downtown, June 2nd, 10:30 A.M.

The investigators get into an argument about whether to kill Ambrose Grant. Dr. Sorenson suggests just turning off the machines.

“This goes against all of my medical ethics,” Dr. Ilyes objects. “This is a helpless human being who is in our care. Without advice from a family member, legal guardian or attorney we are going to kill him.”

“He is legally dead,” Sorenson points out.

“He’s biologically alive! I can tell you that! I’ve been taking care of him and I am going to have no part in killing a helpless individual who is at my mercy.”

“You’ve worked in hospitals,” Sorenson says, trying to win him over. “Families pull the plug all the time.”

“Yes,” he admits. “But they have lawyers, living wills, and families. He has nothing. The hubris that you can assume that you end the life of a human being.”

“When I lived in California I voted for the death penalty,” Sorenson quips.

“You are playing god!” Ilyes shouts.

“No I’m not,” he says more seriously. “This man is dangerous to society. Society is more important than this one man in a coma. He is too dangerous to be allowed to live. His wife, whether she was a figment of Ambrose’s imagination or a ghost, she wanted us to end his suffering. That is the closest we can get to his next of kin to find what they want.”

“Spirits!?” Ilyes says disbelievingly.

“This is what you do for a living now,” Sorenson says.

“No it is not! The first thing I pledged when I went to Bainard Medical School was to do no harm! This is not a sand person! This is not a groetnich! This is a human being!”

As Sorenson tries to explain how dangerous Ambrose is, Mill speaks up. “Let’s wake the guy up. Let’s wake the guy up and talk to him.”

“No, step away from him,” Shaw warns.

The argument continues. They try to figure out how they could contain him. Slowly Ilyes begins to win over Mill to his point of view but the discussion seems to go nowhere.

The idea of giving him to Keystone is brought up but Sorenson objects, “so they can do unethical experiements on him?”

“You just admitted we can’t handle him,” Ilyes retorts. “I am not going to be a part to a murder. I’m not denying that he didn’t commit crimes. I’m not denying he’s not dangerous.”

Ilyes relays the story of the tulpa to them. In the story the tulpa is the concentrated will of a murdered monk, an idea of vengeance given form. “What’s going to happen if he is killed?”

As the discussion continues, Shaw steps aside and sends a text message to Keystone.

A short time later a truck and a luxury car pull up front of Frank’s office. Lisa Peterson walks into the office flanked by medical personnel.

“Good work,” the well groomed woman says.

“You’ll need to keep him fully sedated,” Shaw warns.

Lisa looks at the doctor with her and nods. As the others look on helplessly, they wheel Ambrose away. Mill follows them. They take to their headquarters in Lake District. There is nothing he can do about it.

A very large check deposited in the company accounts.

View
Cold Case, Part III

Under the Hillcrest Mental Health Center, May 13th 8 PM

Trevor shoots the impossible black cube. The bullet flattens against its surface. As a ripple of light floats across the cube, Trevor begins to vanish as if he was being rotated out of reality.

Shaw turns to create a path of escape through the gang of children blocking the tunnel. She tries to manhandle the kids out of the way. Robert pulls his pistol and shoots one of them. As it screams in pain, its fellows rush forward and grab Shaw, pulling her down.

Others, towards the back, stare into Robert’s eyes. He feels paralyzing fear. He realizes they are inside his mind and he freezes up.

Shaw frees herself and backs away. Suddenly her body is wracked with pain as the children use their powers on her. They run around her as she is stunned and a pair of them begin to drag Robert down the tunnel.

At that point Trevor reappears. Still freaking out he tries to flee but trips right into the children. However as they try to grab him, he again vanishes from reality.

Shaw meanwhile regains her composure to find the kids trying to pin her. She puts her gun to one of their heads and fires. The child melts into black goo. She fires again wounding the one Robert shot earlier. Their numbers diminishing she is able to beat her way free.

Trevor reappears again and scrambles back up the tunnel to the subbasement. The children chase after him but only weakly grab at his feet as he pulls his way up into the abandoned patient cell. Running into the operating room, he finds himself alone. With no one chasing him he is able to regain his composure.

He returns to the tunnel to find Shaw fighting off the last of the children. He shoots the most wounded one and it dissolves into black goo. The surviving children flee. However as the investigators catch their breath they realize Robert is gone.


Trevor leads the way down the tunnels searching for telltale drag marks of where Robert was taken. A trail of black blood from a wounded child goes down a side passage. They follow the main trail until it hits a fork. Faced with the choice of falling behind or losing him entirely, they carefully study the location. Ten minutes later, they take the left fork.

“How did they find the strength to carry him so quickly?” the doctor mutters. “They must have met up with some of their allies.”

Elsewhere in the tunnels, Robert awakens alone in the dark. The earth floor is cool and damp. He searches around him. His gun, his pepper spray, even his shoes have been stolen. He thinks back to what happened. He remembers being carried through the dark, their thoughts in his head, and having strange rods pressed to his skin and the terrible pain they inflicted. He checks his body. He is unhurt.

Groping around, he finds a path downward out of the room as well as narrower passage upward. He hears noises approaching from below and hastily crawls up.

Meanwhile the others hear something ahead of them and race to meet it. The path slopes upward through an earthen chamber.

Robert climbs up out of a hole in a stone tiled floor. There is a foul smell in the air but he can see the dim outline of a door. He pulls himself up scattering some tiles and something like sticks. He pushes a stone door open and wanders out into a graveyard. Its dark but he can see street lights in the distance.

Trevor and Shaw climb up after him. They find themselves in a crypt. Shaw calls out to Robert.

“Where did the children go?” Sorenson wonders aloud.

“What?” Mill asks as he approaches.

Sorenson repeats the question and adds, “How did you get away?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know what happened.”

“Are you hurt?” Shaw asks.

“No. Are you guys okay?”

“I shot one and it turned into black goo,” she replies grimacing.

Robert thinks back. “That’s what you said happened in the Hillcrest center once.”

“I didn’t see it that time,” she explains.

“Well, when I saw Community kill one, that’s what I saw,” Dr. Sorenson adds.

Robert looks around. “Where are we? What time is it?”

Shaw looks up toward the hill where the Hillcrest Center looms. “Looks like the graveyard that surrounds the sanitarium.”

“That makes sense.”

Dr. Sorenson shifts uneasily. “Why did they dump you? I would assume they would have -”

“Killed me?” Robert interjects. “I don’t know.”

Shaw looks back at the crypt. It belongs to someone with the improbable name of Terrance Smiley.

Sorenson follows her gaze. “Well we have a back door if we need to return.”

“I don’t really want to go back there,” Robert admits.

“I wonder what their purpose is?” the doctor asks. “I thought they were somewhat neutral.”

“So you guys are alright then?” Robert asks.

“Except for my pride,” the doctor says.

Shaw explains, “Sorenson came back and we were able to fight them off. Then we followed your trail here.”

“Thanks for coming after me,” Robert says.

“We’ve seen some crazy things. I wouldn’t want to leave anyone to their control,” Sorenson says.

They begin to discuss if anything down there was connected to Ambrose. Then Robert realizes something. “Frick, we need to get back to the hospital and gather up our stuff.”

“Its not far,” the doctor says.

Robert looks down at his dirty state of undress. “I can’t go back given I’m missing some clothes.”

“I can take care of things,” Sorenson says.

Shaw takes charge. “Let’s go back to the front and Sorenson and I will make sure the way in is closed.”

Sorenson adds. “And we’ll chalk that one up to experience and evaluate what we learned a different time.”

They return to the hospital. While Robert takes a nap in the car, the others clean up the closet entrance, stacking up bricks and boxes to obscure the way into the subbasement.

Returning to the car, Sorenson suggests Robert might want to be checked out mentally and physically.

Robert adds, “Shaw I assume I do need to report to the police that I lost my gun? Probably not a good thing to lose a pistol.”

“Yeah, you should report it stolen,” she says.

“Good idea, let’s report it stolen.”

Then they head home.

Friday, May 14th

Robert Mill takes Friday off. That morning he wakes up again and again from terrible nightmares. He sees a giant child playing with black blocks. It offers him one. Dr. Sorenson doesn’t feel much better. He is nauseous and suffering a fever. He also takes off from work. Shaw is left alone in the office to takes care of the paperwork. She dutifully bills Keystone Pharmaceuticals for their night’s labor, claiming their investigation was a follow up on one of the last known places Ambrose Grant was seen.

Around 10 AM Shaw calls Mill. He quickly answers, “Hello? What’s going on?”

“Hey, how are you doing?”

He says tiredly, “I just got up for your call.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you would be up already. I just wanted to make sure you were okay. Do you need a ride to the hospital or anything?”

“That would be good.” he says. “I haven’t been sleeping too well. I feel a little off.”

“Alright. Have you made an appointment yet?” she asks.

“No.”

“Okay, I’ll have Mavis schedule you. I’ll text you when I come by.”

“Thank you.”

Later at the hospital, the doctor tells them Mill is physically fine, just fatigued. He is prescribed some sleep medication. Dr. Sorenson diagnoses himself at home. He is clearly ill with some mundane bug, probably contracted during their trip to the sewers. He spends the day drinking plenty of fluids and watching G-rated movies with no children in them. Elsewhere Vito continues his recovery.

Shaw researches how to deal with ghosts. She tells Mill, “I definitely don’t have my ouija board anymore.”

Robert tells how to contact VI to get some information from him. Reluctantly she goes through with it, spray painting an eye in a nearby alley. A few hours later Mill’s phone rings. Mavis routes it to Shaw’s phone.

“Got your message,” VI says.

“Hi this is Shaw, Mill is recovering from one of our excursions,” she replies.

Surprised he asks, “is he okay?”

“Yeah, I think he’ll be fine. The doctor says there is no lasting damage. I was hoping you might be able to give me some pointers on contacting the dead.”

“I can help with that,” he admits.

“Am I going to need s ouija board?” she asks, seriously.

“Well, what are we talking about there? Poltergeists? An apparition?”

After some back and forth, they set up a meeting that evening to discuss the details.

“Great I’ll bring up what I have on the contactee,” Shaw says. After hanging up she calls the neighborhood watch to report the graffiti.

The Jade Garden, International District, Seattle, 6 PM

VI meets Shaw at the Chinese restaurant that evening. She shakes his hand. “I thought we could get dinner at the same time if that works for you?”

“Sure,” he replies.

As they wait for their food, Shaw gives him a file on Doretta Teesdale. He reads over it and then asks, “Okay. So we don’t actually know what she is like?”

“Not really.” She goes over the reported sightings and asks, “Have you actually seen ghosts?”

Almost gleeful, VI pulls out his handy-cam. On the small video monitor, he shows her a strange green smudge floating in the air of some old house.

“Wait, wait here’s the moment,” he says. The apparition suddenly manifests as a mass of teeth and claws. The video ends. “I had to get out of there after that.”

“That looked more like an animal than a person,” she comments.

“Yeah. But its a ghost.”

“Is that a ghost of a person? Is that what happens to them?” she asks, curious.

“Some of them. I guess,” he shrugs.

“I’m hoping Doretta is not as animalistic as that. Are there any special ways of talking to them? Or do they mostly choose to talk to you?”

VI shares the rumors he’s heard of people with the ability to command ghosts. Unfortunately that’s all they are, rumors.

“So is any particular time of day is best?” Shaw asks.

“Nights are best. The fewer people the better,” he advises. He adds, “I’ve got some cameras that should pick them up.”

“You mean I wouldn’t be able to see that with my own eyes?”

“Only the last bit,” he tells her. He fills her in on special filters, Kirlian cameras, and various energy meters. Shaw takes careful notes.

Shaw mentions their recent activities under the Hillcrest Center.

“What was down there?” he asks.

She tells him about the children.

“I’ve heard about them,” he says. “They are some weird underground cult. I heard they eat people.”

“Eat?” she says disbelievingly.

“That’s what I heard.”

Shaw explains the children didn’t physically hurt them. “Even Mill and they had him for an hour.”

“Is he really okay?” he asks skeptically.

“I don’t know. But they certainly didn’t eat him.”

She tells him what they seemed capable of. As they wrap up, VI offers to help with the ghosts but Shaw declines his offer.

Saturday May 15th

Shaw gets floor plans for Doretta Teesdale’s house. She calls Robert Mill and Dr. Sorenson.

The doctor is still recovering. “I think I’ll be better tomorrow. I think I must have picked up something from the sewers.”

Robert meanwhile is still sleeping poorly.

Shaw decided to contact the bank that owns the property. She convinces them to show her the place and allow her to investigate it. She claims she is representing prospective buyers who want to look into this haunted claim before buying. They arrange for someone to meet her Sunday afternoon at the house with the keys.

She also requests the cameras and energy meters from Keystone Pharmaceuticals. Lisa Peterson approves the requisition.

Rainier Valley, Seattle, Sunday May 16th 3PM

Shaw doses herself with BSNX-7 before going down to the house. A man from the bank is there to show her around. The property is a nicely maintained Victorian home. It is partially furnished with no signs of its dark past.

A few hours later Robert Mill and Dr. Trevor Sorenson arrive. They head into the house with their new equipment.

“If we are lucky the ghost will contact us and we won’t need all of this stuff,” the doctor says.

“You call that lucky?” Robert says.

The open the blinds to let in more of the fading light.

“How did you wrangle this?” Sorenson asks.

Shaw explains she claimed to have buyers who wanted to have a closer look.

Robert perks up. “How much is it?”

Shaw tells him the price.

“Pretty good price.”

Shaw pulls the camera and meters from the boxes. Robert trains the camera on her and sees an aura about her. She also tentatively hands Robert one of Frank’s guns.

Robert decides not to take a meter. He seems withdrawn.

“Are you not feeling well?” Shaw asks.

“I’m just not sleeping well. I think whatever they did to me, it has caused me to be a little skittish.”

“Maybe you should talk to the doctor?” she says.

He looks at Sorenson. “That doctor?”

“Yeah. He’s under contract.”

He mulls the idea. “Okay. It might not be the worst thing to do.”


Shaw lays out the plan. They will sweep house with the cameras and meters first. Then they will set up to watch the house for the evening. She hands Sorenson one of the meters. “This is a fancy thermometer.”

The doctor looks the device over. It seems to register something called psychokinetic energy as well as electric fields and temperature. He waves it around, picking up some spikes in activity.

Robert starts using the camera. “Is this thing recording?”

Shaw tells him, “just keeps your eyes open.”

They soon detect a cold spot at the base of stairs. Shaw asks, “are you guys seeing anything here?”

Sorenson replies, “I’m getting some readings but I don’t know how to interpret them.”

Robert goes upstairs. He pats the doll hanging from his side. As he sweeps over a hallway, he sees an old woman for a moment in the video screen. He whispers downstairs, “Guys, guys! I saw something here!”

They come up but he doesn’t see her up again. He rewinds the tape. There is a pretty woman with long dark hair streaked with gray.

“That looks like her,” Shaw says.

“It matches the autopsy reports descriptions,” Sorenson seconds.

After some more searching they decide to wait until dark. They set the cameras to focus on the stairs. Robert stays upstairs where he saw her while the others stay at the top and bottom of the stairs.

Sorenson waits at the bottom of the stairs, occasionally wandering a bit to make sure nothing is occurring elsewhere. While in the kitchen he spots a teapot on the stove. It looks like it was just placed there.

He shouts upstairs, “did someone leave a pot of tea on the stove?”

“No,” Shaw and Robert’s voices reply.

Shaw comes down to check on Sorenson. While Robert asks, “What kind of tea?”

Sorenson picks up the teapot. Its warm and full of water. “Someone put the kettle on to boil.”

Shaw shouts, “any readings?”

Dr. Sorenson turns around to take a reading. There is a woman standing in front of him. Nervously he shouts back, “there’s a woman down here.”

The woman quietly asks him, “would you like some tea?”

Sorenson cautiously says, “we would love to have some tea and talk awhile. Thank you for communicating with us.”

The woman tells him, “just sit in the living room. I’ll bring be by in a moment with tea.”

He nervously shouts upstairs, “she’s serving tea in the parlor.”

They gather in the parlor. Shaw sets her camera on fireplace mantel to record everything. Robert keeps looking through the camera. He catches her on camera. She is translucent with a weak flickering aura.

Sorenson makes an effort to be polite to “Doretta”. The teapot whistles and they can here he assembling tea.

“What kind of tea is it Mrs. Teesdale?” Robert asks.

She comes out with a platter with a selection of teas. He looks almost like her pictures, just a little older than when she died.

“Nice to have visitors,” Doretta says.

“We’re friends of Frank’s,” Shaw explains.

“How is he?” she asks setting down the platter.

“He’s doing better,” Shaw explains.

Dr. Sorenson adds, “we’re trying to pick up the investigation where Frank left off.”

“That’s so nice of you,” Doretta says. “Ambrose really does need your help.”

“Yes, and it would help Frank a lot to help him in his troubles,” he replies.

Shaw asks, “can you tell us what you know about Ambrose?”

As Shaw pulls out her pad, Doretta pours some tea. “Oh I really do hope you can find my husband. He is in such pain. The accident, it has left him trapped.”

“Trapped how?”

The older woman says, “inside his body. He can’t move, can’t speak. He’s in so much pain.”

Dr. Sorenson says, “like a coma but he’s completely coherent inside. If he could only connect with his physical body.”

Doretta nods in agreement. “Yes. He needs your help to move on.”

“Do you have any conception of where he might be?” Robert asks.

She looks down. “No, unfortunately. I just know he needs my help.”

“What do you mean by move on?” he presses.

“There is nothing that can be done for him. He is still in pain while he is alive.” She hesitates. “I know its sounds horrible but he needs to be allowed to die.”

“What’s stopping him?” Shaw asks.

“He wants to die but he can’t do it on his own,” Doretta explains. “Some part of him won’t let him do that.”

Robert asks if Ambrose had any enemies. “Ambrose had many enemies but I don’t think any of them are involved. I think he is just trapped in a prison of his own making.”

Dr. Sorenson asks if there might be paperwork about where he is. She says, “whatever they are doing to him, it is not legal.”

Robert asks about if Ambrose really had psychic powers. She explains, “Yes. He could read minds, lift objects, and change what people think.”

“He sounds like a very special man,” Sorenson says softly.

“He is,” she says smiling.

Shaw asks Doretta if she is sure Ambrose can effect the world while paralyzed. She press for evidence.

Doretta looks into her tea. “He pushed me.”

“Why would he do that?” Shaw asks. “You obviously care about him.”

“I do, its just…I think he blames me for what happened to him.”

“Why would he jump to such a terrible conclusion?” Dr. Sorenson asks.

“We were drinking and we had an argument. I-I pushed him. I didn’t mean to hurt him but he fell. He fell into the water. I tried to save him but he was gone.”

“Why would he push you after so long?” Shaw asks.

Doretta speculates, “maybe he that was when he realized I was in the city.”

“How do you feel?” Robert asks.

“Heavy.” She sighs. “I just need you to take care of this one last task to help Ambrose.”

They review her time with Ambrose, the arguments and the estrangement, looking for missing clues.

“Did you hope to reconcile with him, before the accident?” Sorenson asks.

“Yes.”

Robert backs away from the conversation and scans the area for anything else happening. Shaw reviews her notes and Dr. Sorenson continues the questioning. Doretta doesn’t seem to be lying or holding anything back.

Doretta’s House, Rainier Valley, 9 PM

Robert Mill notices three figures outside. They appear to be men in dark suits.

“Shaw,” he says beckons her to the window. He turns the camera on them. They are blurry with weird spiky auras.

As Shaw joins him at the window, Dr. Sorenson asks, “do you know of any projects or research he was doing that could have led to this?”

“He had some sort of project,” Doretta says. “I don’t know what it was about.”

“Do you know where he might have kept notes or records, any sort of documentation about what he was doing?”

“I don’t know.”

Dr. Sorenson glances at the others. They are looking out the window. The men outside have blank face, just sunglasses, a nose and line for a mouth. No lips or eyebrows, no lines on their smooth faces.

Shaw gives a signal for them to back up and grabs her camera from the mantle. “Miss Teesdale?”

“Yes?” the woman says.

“There are three creatures approaching. Are they known to you?”

“No.”

“Does your house have any defenses.”

“No.”

Sorenson tells Doretta, “We may have to leave abruptly but do you know of any location that Ambrose may have hidden any of his research? A secret office he might have had?”

She thinks quickly. “He spent a lot of time in Yesler Terrace. I don’t know what he was doing down there. I never really asked.”

The investigators quickly psyche themselves up to deal with the Tulpas. Shaw explains she wants to talk their way out, hopefully pumping them for information.

They head for the front door. As they leave Sorenson tells Doretta, “Thank you for the tea. We’ll keep you updated.”

They exit out the front and Shaw locks up behind them. The three figures are on the front lawn in front of them.

“Oh hey. Hi. How’s it going?” the doctor says to the mannequin like figures. “I don’t suppose you’ve come to take a look at the place?”

They look blankly at him.

“Hello?” Shaw says.

One of them steps forward.

The doctor says, “we can talk about this right? You have some interest here.”

They begin to walk forward.

Shaw shouts, “Stop!”

As they continue their advance, Mill quickly draws his gun and shoots one of them. It moves with superhuman speed but the bullet goes through its heart. It screams and its skin flakes away like old paint. In seconds it is reduced to nothing more than a pile of clothing.

“That’s not what we discussed!” Shaw shouts.

“That plan failed.” Robert replies bluntly.

The other two “men” close with Robert. They scuffle with him and one clips his shoulder with a wild swing.

Shaw grapples with one of them while Sorenson tackles the other, knocking it off balance. It swings wildly at him, grazing his back.

Shaw meanwhile ducks under a headbutt. She tries to pin the man but he is too strong for her.

Sorenson pulls his pocket knife and tries to keep their attention on him. “Come on bring it on!”

Robert takes his time. He moves away form the combat, aims and shoots the one on Sorenson in the shoulder. It begins to act strangely, tottering away with its features melting like hot wax. It begins to become shorter and shorted until it completely disintegrates.

“Help me pin this guy!” Shaw shouts just as the last one breaks free of her hold.

Robert wings him with a bullet. He seems hurt but doesn’t bleed. Shaw tries to wrestle him again with Sorenson’s help but he slips away.

Then he becomes invisible.

“We need to take him alive,” Shaw says, still able to see him. “Get your cameras out. He’s still right there.”

She jumps at him but slips and smashes her face into the concrete. By the time she recovers he is gone.

They search the scene quickly. There are no signs of how they got here and no residue on the clothes.

“Let’s get out of here before the cops come,” Sorenson says. He turns to Robert. “I thought that the plan was we weren’t going to go in guns blazing?”

“I was scared.”

“How about you hand me that gun,” Shaw demands.

Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, Downtown, 10 PM

Back at the office, the investigators discuss their next step.

Shaw starts with, “We didn’t learn much new there. We can have Ilyes analyze the clothes, but there doesn’t seem anything left of them.”

“Its possible that the matter that composes their bodies returns to whatever dimension they came from,” Dr. Sorenson speculates.

“Dimension?” Shaw says incredulously.

Sorenson babbles something about Astral projections and dimensions of the mind.

“What does that mean? Astral Projection,” Robert asks.

Sorenson describes it as sending one’s mind to other locations. “I’m not saying I believe in astral projection but they match up with that. They may have returned to their bodies when disrupted.”

“They weren’t very sturdy that’s for sure,” Robert comments. “That does lend some credence to that idea.”

They go over the Tulpas and their invisibility effect. It seems to be a purely mental effect.

Shaw points out, “whoever is trying to stop us is watching that house. It could be Ambrose himself.”

“I just had a crazy thought,” Dr. Sorenson says. He explains his idea that the creatures may be aspects of Ambrose’s mind trying to stop them from finding him. The others admit they had the same conclusion.

“Doretta could conceivably be a thought form of Ambrose,” Shaw adds.

“Part of his subconscious trying to defeat himself,” he muses.

They review the facts and theorize that Ambrose might be behind all of this, even the missing person case of Kenneth Thomas.

Planning for their next step they outline a few possibilities. Frank might know something. They could also return to the House or investigating next door at Ashwood Heights. They might also shadow Dr. Warden.

Shaw advocates caution. She advises them to do a bit more research first.

Turning to Robert, she says, “you know, on the police force, whenever you discharge your weapon you have to write a report. You’ve been a little bit gun happy. I’m not saying it hasn’t been unproductive but its starting to worry me a little bit honestly.”

“I agree that I’m becoming the new Vito,” Robert reluctantly agrees. “You have my gun anyway so its less of a problem.”

They decide to work some more on the case on Monday.

Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, Downtown, Monday May 16th

Shaw and Mill research Ashwood Heights. It is managed by a company called Millenial Housing. The finances for the place are pretty bad. It doesn’t seem built to turn a profit, charging very low rents for what, on paper, should be a nice place to live. It was supported by a trust but that is almost empty.

The complex itself is three stories high with fifty units. The entrance process requires a strange and complex approval process, including a questionnaire about the applicant’s history. They notice that the construction work involved several invoices for material used in medical and computer equipment.

That evening as they fill in Sorenson, he speculates, “there is some hidden place there. Maybe that is where he ended up. His body might be in that place. The apartment complex could be a front to hide him.”

They also identify the apartment manager, Gordon Fisher, as a person of extreme interest. He oversees everything at the complex, including Millenial Housing. He lives at the complex himself.

Shaw also asks Keystone Pharmaceuticals if they can look into what reports they have of Tulpa sightings before the 90s. Lisa Peterson promises to have a report later in the week.

Hillcrest Mental Health Center, Greenwood, Tuesday May 17th, 3 PM

Robert Mill goes to his meeting with Dr. Sorenson to console him on his recent violent tendencies.

“Tell me about your feelings,” Sorensosn begins.

“Before all of this began happening, I guess I was peaceful. I was always cautioning us not to rush into things. I’ve been slipping more and more where my first thought is violence. Maybe I’m being paranoid, maybe I’m not. Its wrong that I’m shooting first. But these things are bad they are trying to hurt us. I’m just not sure if that’s me anymore or what.”

Sorenson tries to get him started on deep breathing exercises but Robert objects. “How is deep breathing going to help me with my problems? My problems are that I think people are trying to kill me.”

Sorenson tells him he has other options than shooting in a conflict. He also advises him to get a tazer instead of a gun.

Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, Downtown, Thursday May 19th, 5 PM

The Keystone report arrives. There are some sightings dating back to 1970s, but activity went way up in the 90s.

As Shaw is looking over this, her phone rings. “Hello?”

A distorted voice replies, “you are looking into what is happening with Millennial Housing. I can save you some time.”

“Alright,” she says turning on the recorder.

“This may be hard for you to understand,” the caller cautions.

“I’ll try to wrap my mind around it,” She says sarcastically.

“Ambrose was continuing the work that Moorcock started at Hillcrest. He developed a device to tap into people’s minds. A computer for sifting through their thoughts. He found things there.”

“In the subconscious?” Shaw asks.

“Yes. Things like…well you’ve seen some of the fruits of that labor.”

“Tulpas?”

“Yes.”

“Are the machines still there?” She asks.

“Yes,” says the voice of who could only be Infinity.

“At the house or the apartment?”

“Somewhere in the apartment complex,” Infinity explains.

“Why haven’t you acted on this information?” Shaw asks suspiciously.

“It might take a bit of time and investigation. I’m not the best with dealing with people,” Infinity admits.

“Why?”

Infinity hesitates. “Let’s just say if you can find out what he found there, I’ll let you know.”

“Alright. Do you know if there is any further danger there than we encountered before?”

“I’m not really sure. Its possible though it will attract Dr. Warden.”

“Is there a way to neutralize him?” Shaw asks.

“I think the vials of BSNX-7 you have should protect you. It should limit his effects on you.”

“That’s good to know. Are you still monitoring all my calls?”

“No,” Infinity answers though Shaw doesn’t believe him.

After the call. she calls in Robert Mill and let’s him know. They plan to investigate Mr. Fisher and stakeout the apartment.

View
Cold Case, Part II

Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, Downtown, Wednesday, May 12th 9 AM

Robert Mill walks into the office. He goes into the bullpen and sets his stuff on his desk. Unusually Vito isn’t at his desk.

Mavis pops in. “Do you know where Vito is?”

“Um, no,” he says. “I’m not sure what’s up with Vito. I’m sure its just fine though. He’s probably working for the military again.”

“O-kay,” the secretary says, unsure how to take that.

Robert meanwhile gets to work, writing up his report on the cheating husband case.

Shaw enters the office, still flush from her morning workout. She heads for her office.

Mavis catches up with her. “There was a call earlier today from a Mrs. Peterson, she was interested in hiring us.”

“Great,” she says. “Who is she?”

Mavis hands over the contact information. It is Lisa Peterson, from Keystone Pharmaceuticals. “Uh…thanks.”

Mavis continues, “Oh, Vito hasn’t come in today. Is he on some case? I didn’t see anything on the schedule.”

“No,” Shaw says distracted. “He doesn’t have any reason to be on fieldwork right now.”

“I’ll give him a call then.”

Shaw sets the contact info on her desk and pokes her head into the bullpen. “Hey I’m about to contact Keystone Pharma for a job. You might want to upgrade our office security.”

With Robert mulling over that, she picks up the phone and calls the executive.

Mrs. Peterson’s gentle voice comes over the line. “Hello.”

“Miss Peterson, this is Lillian Shaw. I was told you might have a need for some private security work.”

“Its more a missing person case,” the executive explains.

“I see.” Shaw mulls this over.

“I think this might be mutually beneficial to us. It involves a celebrity that went missing some time ago. Perhaps you’ve heard of him: Ambrose Grant.”

Shaw feigns ignorance. “That’s the magician who disappeared, like really?”

“Yes,” she replies seriously. “We’d like to hire you to find him for us.”

“What makes you think he’s still alive? Or are we looking for his remains?”

“We have reason to believe he’s still alive. I’d rather not talk about why over the phone. Could we meet someplace?”

“Are you implying my office is not secure?” Shaw says indignantly.

“There are many interested parties,” Lisa intimates.

“Well we could meet at that cafe we met at last time,” Shaw suggests.

“Certainly. I’ll make there is a reservation there. For this afternoon perhaps?”

“Sure.”

Lisa tells her when to meet. “Thank you I look forward to seeing you.”

After hanging up, Shaw draws up a standard contract for this kind of work though she increases their rates by fifty percent. They will pay for that stolen computer.

As she heads out to her meeting, she asks Mavis, “Did you ever hear from Vito?”

“No,” she says worried. “I called his house there was no answer. I left a message. I tried his house number and cell.”

Shaw looks into the bullpen but all of her other detectives are out working. She thinks to herself, ‘I hope he didn’t go after Dr. Warden alone.’

Capitol Hill, 10 AM

Shaw find Lisa Peterson seated at a discrete booth.

“I’m glad you could make it,” Lisa says as Shaw sits. “I think we may have gotten off on the wrong foot last time. I hope that our dealings here can be a bit more trusting.”

“A rare commodity,” Shaw says.

“Yes.” Lisa pulls a file folder out of her briefcase. She slides the file over. “Take this as a peace offering. It should help in the investigation.”

As Shaw opens it, Lisa adds, “before you look over that, please know this should remain confidential.”

She nods and looks over the file. Written for the Chieron Group, it details a potential asset: Ambrose Grant. The comprehensive report covers everything about his life, including details on his CIA activities. These seem to have been reconstructed from stolen government papers and extensive independent investigation. Most of the research appears to have been completed in the mid 80s.

The tale they tell is strange but fits with what they already know. Ambrose was a spy and an assassin for the CIA, using his psychic powers at their direction while stationed in Eastern Europe. After leaving the CIa, he became a flamboyant magician. Chieron had their eyes on him, hoping to learn more about his abilities. Shaw notes that the wording is very similar to that used in the report by Frank’s friend, Rajiv.

The company had Ambrose under close surveillance. When Ambrose had his accident, the Chieron Group snatched him from Harborview Medical Center. Under the Pleseus Guild they moved him to the Hillcrest Mental Health Center. Ambrose’s condition was stable but he was totally and permanent paralyzed. His brain waves however indicated he was conscious. However 3 weeks into their study, mysterious men, possibly acting under his orders, broke into the Hillcrest center and removed him. A pursuit was launched but nothing was found.

Shaw finds no clues from where the second transfer form originated from the report. The Chieron Group seems ignorant of it. She looks up at Mrs. Peterson. “So why the sudden interest in this man? This was over 20 years ago.”

“Well it had come to our attention that others were looking for Ambrose,” she says. “First there was his ex-wife and more recently a friend of yours. Neither came to a good end. There must be something to find.”

Shaw turns back to the report. The final part deals with the Ambrose’s theft or escape. There are pictures of six blurry intruders in dark suits. The report confirms they were not working for the government. The blurry effect seems to be either supernatural or technological in origin. There was no sign of approach but they escaped on foot.

“I assume the intruders don’t match anything in your records,” Shaw states.

“There have been a number of theories put forward as to the type of the beings involved.” Peterson slides over a second folder. “This our best theory.”

The folder contains several files. It begins with a more recent investigation of Millenial Housing, a rental company that was founded in the 1970s by Ambrose Grant. The people living the apartment complex owned by the company experience a strange forgetfulness. In the course of their investigation they discovered the House and the Sandmen, referred to as Memnovores here. The company tried to study them but it was too dangerous as agents would vanish, be replaced by dopllegangers or Tulpas, or go insane. So they hired the Ave Rats Cell.

The second file discusses the two supernatural creatures related to the house and the apartment complex next door. The material on the Sandmen, or Memnovores, is pretty familiar from Dr. Ilyes reports. It seems they subsist on memories. If they drain enough memories they can turn another person into one of them. Though they exist elsewhere they are much more common and organized in Seattle.

As for the Doppleganger, Chieron calls them Tulpas or Thought Projection Forms after the Tibetan myth. The Tulpas are almost as much of a mystery to Cheiron as to the investigators. They lack a proper biology and utterly disintegrate when killed. They photograph poorly and appear in mirrors as blurs. This suspected to be an effect of negative L-field dissonance by the corporate scientists. Exposure to sensitives, such as psychics, causes erratic changes. Beings of this sort turn up now and again in the world but never in such numbers and never with a larger agenda.

Shaw slides her contract over to Peterson. She signs it. “There will be a sizable bonus if you bring Ambrose back to us.”

As Shaw leaves she gets a text from Robert: ‘Suspect was not cheating on his wife. The suspicious activity was he was planning a party for her. Very sweet. Case closed, heading back to office now.’

Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, Downtown, Noon

Robert Mill gets back to the office. Those two hours of stakeout didn’t turn out like normal. Maybe the world isn’t so bad.

Turning his computer screen back on, he sees two new files on his computer desktop: Warden.jpeg and address.txt. The jpeg shows a hospital hallway, probably Harborview, with a blurry image of a doctor in the center. Oddly the rest of the picture is clear even the nurse at the edge. The txt file has an address in Central District for Dr. Adam Warden.

Thinking of Infinity, Robert mutters, “always the needless mystery with this guy.”

He forwards the files to the others: ‘Possible location on Dr. Warden. Advise if we want to pursue.’

He gets a text back from Shaw: ‘Where did you get this information?’

‘Our good friend’ he sends back.


Somewhere in the darkness, Vito’s phone lies on a dank floor. It buzzes then dies.

Bainbridge Island, Washington, 4PM

Shaw walks up to Vito‘s house. The sun is shining and the sky is clear for a change. She rings the bell but there is no answer. Checking around back she sees his boat is gone. She heads over to his mailbox. Yesterday’s mail is gone. So he came home last night then left.

She smells a barbecue going on next door. She approaches the man cooking and says, “hey.”

“Hey,” he says in reply.

“Nice day,” she says.

“Yeah.”

“Don’t get too many of these.” The man laughs as she continues. “You may have seen me around. I work with Vito.”

“Oh right, right,” he says. “That guy.”

“I was actually wonder if you’d seen him. He didn’t come into work today.’

“Nah,” the man says keeping his attention on the grill. “I haven’t seen him all day.”

“His boat was gone in the morning?” she asks.

“Yeah, I think so.” The man scratches his head.

“Is there any local busy body around here who might have seen something?” she inquires.

He scowls. “Ah, yeah there’s Winny. She lives a few houses down.”

“Thanks. If you hear anything here.” She hands him her card. “Hopefully its just that his cell phone died. Still it is a little strange, he’s pretty good about calling in.”


Shaw heads down the street where an old woman is tending flowers.

“Hey,” she says. “Oh that’s great I can never get things to grow like that.”

The woman warms to Shaw and unloads on the difficulties of weeding, dealing with neighborhood dogs, and the general irresponsibility of those around here.

“I hear you,” Shaw says. “Actually I work with someone who lives a couple houses down, Vito, you know him?”

“Yes,” Winifred says sourly.

“I came by looking for him,” Shaw explains. “He didn’t come into work today. So I wanted to make sure he wasn’t sick or something.”

“I don’t think he’s sick,” the old woman says. “He went out last night. Late.”

Shaw feigns sympathy. “Late? Oh man, he keeps all hours doesn’t he?”

“Yeah, I was trying to sleep and I hear his boat start up around 11,” Winny complains.

“And he hasn’t come back yet?”

“No.”

Shaw sounds worried. “Did he seem okay? There weren’t other people with him or anything?”

“No I don’t think so.”

“Okay, maybe he forgot to charge his cell phone.”

“Some people.” Winny begins complaining about negligent workers.

Shaw lists for a while and then tells her, “enjoy the rest of the day.”

Downtown, 5 PM

Shaw is back in the city. She talks to her police contacts. With a little work she is able to track down Vito‘s last known location. He was by the entrance to the sewer, specifically where Terrance Smith had vanished. A security camera showed him in a raincoat wearing a miner’s helmet and a mysterious bulge under his coat (likely a shotgun to her trained eye).

Shaw texts Robert Mill and Dr. Sorenson: ‘Have a new client with deep pockets, meet at house boat at 7’

She then heads home to sweep for bugs.

Shaw’s houseboat, Lake Union, 7 PM

Robert and Dr. Sorenson arrive at the same time.

As they walk in Robert sighs, “more after hours work.”

“Well we can bill this,” Shaw says, smiling.

“Oh? Sweet.”

“In fact I’m really hoping to run up some overtime. Though you might not be happy, doctor, with our current employer but you might want to know that they are basically running the Hillcrest Center anyway.”

“Whose is this?” Sorenson says confused.

“Keystone,” Shaw tells him. She fills them in on her meeting and hands them the files.

After looking them over, Robert asks, “do we have any indication that Ambrose is a bad guy?”

“He was an assassin for the CIA according to their records,” Shaw says. “Then again they are their records.”

“I agree that’s bad,” he admits.

They go over Frank’s files again, focusing on his reasons for going on the case. What did Doretta know?

“I had a conspiracy thought about that,” Sorenson says. “Maybe it wasn’t her that was trying to find him. Maybe it was one of these doppelgangers trying to find him.”

Shaw counters with, “well she died after he was hired and her remains didn’t disappear.”

Robert posits that Ambrose may still be paralyzed and psychically controlling these doppelgangers.

“I don’t believe their abilities are totally hocus pocus magic,” Sorenson says. “They work under some unknown scientific principles that we just haven’t uncovered yet.”

Conversation turns to Dr. Warden. As they examine the picture, Shaw says, “if he is one of these doppelgangers, then he has been there for at least 3 years.” She wants them to determine if he replaced a real person or is completely fabricated.

After that Shaw brings up something that is troubling her. “By the way, I think Vito went into the sewers last night and he hasn’t come back.”

“Oh god he went by himself?” Trevor exclaims.

“Pretty sure,” She says. she shows them the still from the security camera. “And his phone is not working.”

“Reception is pretty crappy underground,” Trevor mutters.

“We should go into the sewers to rescue him then,” Robert advises.

“Do we know where he went down there?” Sorenson asks.

“Yes,” Shaw says.

“Let’s hold on this Warden thing and look for Vito,” Robert opinions. “Presumably he’s dead or dying if he hasn’t come back. Or he’s captured.”

“Or he’s lost,” Sorenson says.

Shaw pulls a map of the tunnels beneath downtown. Erin’s earlier research was about to pay off. A brief discuss erupts over how dirty the storm drains will be.

Shaw tells them, “I’ll understand if you guys want to swing by your house and pick up some disposable clothes.”

“But its not going to smell as horrible though right?” Robert worries. “It is more just water down there as opposed to sewage.”

Shaw replies, “right except there is a monster down there killing people.”

“You don’t want to wear your good clothes,” Dr. Sorenson comments.

“I’m with you on that,” Robert quips. “Plus I don’t have any good clothes.”

Dr. Sorenson voices his worry that Vito was their best combatant. He advises, “we need to stick together.”

Robert suggests bringing the grenades, but Shaw vetoes that idea. To allay worries, she points out that only animals and people on their own have gone missing.

They arm themselves with guns, maps, and flashlights. Dr. Sorenson brings a comprehensive first aid kit as well as a pocket knife. Robert Mill readies his pepper spray while Shaw secretly injects herself with some of the last of the BNSX-7.

Downtown, 10 PM

As they head for the sewer entrance, Shaw recognizes the prostitute on the corner. She approaches the woman and asks, “by the way if you don’t hear from me tomorrow, could you let the cops know?”

With the knowledge at least someone might come after them, the investigators descend into the sewers. The rusty rungs under the grate stick out of damp concrete. Robert is down first, splashing into ankle high water. His tennis shoes fill instantly. Sorenson’s galoshes handle the moist environment better. Shaw is down last, wearing thigh high leather boots.

Robert curses and shines his light around the damp tunnel. He spots a raincoat downstream of them.

As Mill picks it up, Sorenson asks, “why would he have left his coat?”

They check the coat but its empty. They speculate he might have just left it behind.

Moving on, they walk down tunnel until they find the ladder mentioned in Frank Brooks’s file. The grime on the lower rungs has been knocked off, indicating someone used it recently. They climb up, swinging over part way into a gap in the wall. The tunnels here are drier, consisting of old sealed off basements. They can pick up some recent foot traffic.

They find the site of Frank’s cannibal family. The area is still blackened from the fire two decades ago. A few bones litter the ground and a rock has been shifted away from the wall. Shaw looks closer. The rocks was moved very recently and there is an old crib inside, untouched by the fire.

Sorenson meanwhile focuses on the old bones. They are human, though the skulls are missing. At least four individuals. One was only a child though. The bones show signs of malnutrition but the also signs of extreme musculature. They must have been stumpy body builders.

“I think this is a crib over here,” Shaw says.

“A crib?” Robert asks.

Shaw holds up a chew toy from the crib. A squeaky noise is emitted when she squeezes it.

Robert relays the details of the footprints on the ground. There are three sets: two with shoes and one barefoot. All the prints head further down the tunnel. One of the prints could be Vito’s. Those are very recent.

Sorenson seems worried but Shaw reassures him, “It is good if he’s walking.”

“Do we want to call out?” the doctor suggests.

“No.”

They turn their lights down the tunnel. It slopes down and a thin layer of water covers the floor. They trudge down to an four way intersection.

Shining his light down the tunnels, Robert spots something down the left hand branch, a helmet with a built in flashlight.

As he points it out, Sorenson says, “he wouldn’t have left that behind. Unless…”

Robert cuts him off. “I guess we go left.”

“Let’s mark this tunnel so we know how to get back.” The doctor scratches an arrow on the wall.

“Good,” Shaw says. “You two go first I’ll guard our rear.”

Sorenson pulls his pistol and holds it out crossed with his flashlight as they move forward. Shaw stops him and adjusts his grip to something more reasonable.

The tunnel up ahead is rough but drier. As the reach a portion that zigzags a bit, something comes out of the shadows behind them.

Robert hears it moving and whirls around. He quickly back peddles into a wall as he fires his gun. The creature screeches in pain as the bullet blows through its shoulder. The other investigators are deafened by the noise in the tight space. In the flash of the gun shot, they see a pale deformed person with large cataract eyes.

Shaw turns her gun on it. She shouts, “stand down!”

Sorenson freaking out, shoots it. The bullet penetrates its legs. Red blood splatters the wall behind it. It scurries away in agony, slipping into a 2 foot high tunnel that was cloaked in shadow.

“We’ve got to find its lair,” Sorenson says, breathing heavily. “If somehow it got the jump on Vito and dragged him back to its lair, it might consume him.”

WHAT?” Robert says, still deafened. After a moment he adds, “I need to wear ear plugs.”

Shaw meanwhile keeps her gun trained on the hole it fled down. The others look for signs of where Vito went. They find drag marks of Vito’s body continuing down the tunnel.

“It probably has more pop-up holes,” Shaw says. “Keep a look out.”

Sorenson scratches an “X” over the hole and they continue on.

The tunnel descends a bit. Sewage drips from cracks in the ceiling. Robert covers his face to cover the stench. Soon afterwards they find the tunnel is crossed by a torrent of water. They spot Vito’s trail on the far side and leap across. The tunnels slopes up gentler, becoming drier until it reaches a series of steps going down.

“Hold up,” Shaw says, spotting another bolt hole low to the ground. She shines her flash light into the small tunnel. Drops of fresh blood cover the floor but there are no other signs of the monster. Sorenson scratches an “O” above the tunnel.

As they descend the steps, Robert halts them, “hold up.” He points out the dusty fishing line across the path. The line is tied to a wooden brace. looking up they see its holding up much of the ceiling. “Frick look at that. Good grief.”

“Good eyes,” Shaw says.

Robert disarms the trap and they press on. They pass through a break in a brick wall and find themselves in a warehouse basement. The air is foul down here as if something died. Shing the light around, they see stacks of crates and piles of bones. Most of the remains are from animals but not all. None of the human skulls are present.

They follow the trail of fresh blood into the chamber.In the center of the room, they find a claring. There four human skulls stand balanced on sticks, looming over a pile of a half dozen skulls. On in the pile is still covered in blood.

Dr. Sorenson takes a look at it. Its probably male and looks like the flesh was gnawed off. “That looks like our author’s skull.”

Shaw recovers the skull. They look around for the cannibal. As Sorenson looks up, Robert spots it hiding under a mass of blankets and bedding. He turns his pistol on it and fires.

It screams and leaps to its feet. As it hisses at them, Robert fires again. The bullet splatters its brain across the back wall. It falls forward and dies.

“Is that the only one?” Dr. Sorenson asks.

“I think so,” Shaw says. “Keep your wits about you in any case.”

Robert looks down at the corpse. In the light its just a blind deformed human. “I think I might throw up actually. I think I will.”

After robert regains his composure, they search around and find Vito’s unconscious form. Sorenson breaks out the medical kit. His vitals are weak but steady. He removes the crude rope restraints and patches him up as best he can.

“This could be pretty good publicity for us,” Shaw speculates. “Just saying.”

Sorenson looks up from his work. “How are we going to get him out of here? He needs medical attention.”

They decided to rig up a carrying device with the rain coat. Shaw takes pictures of the scene. Then they drag Vito out as well as Terrance’s remains.

Once above ground they get Vito to the hospital. Shaw lets her hooker friend know that she is alright.

After the doctors tell them Vito will be okay, Sorenson says to the others, “hopefully he will learn his lesson not to go off on his own. Its arrogant, stupid.”

“It really is,” Shaw agrees.

Shaw takes care of filing a report with the police. They turn over the skull and map out where the cannibal’s lair is. Shaw also gives them an edited version of Frank’s file (minus the part with the murdering cannibals).

As they head home for the night, Shaw tells Robert and Sorenson, “write up your notes for the Ambrose investigation in the morning so we can bill those hours.”

That night before sleep, Dr. Sorenson takes three showers.

Seattle, May 13th and 14th

The company shadows Dr. Warden for a day. Shaw brings Dr. Ilyes to help while Vito recovers. Warden maintains a fairly boring routine. He leaves the house at 7:30 AM each morning, stops at Starbucks on his way to work, and then works at the hospital until late at night. Then he goes home and sleeps. Dr. Sorenson’s medical contacts reveal the doctor spends a lot of time in the less used parts of the hospital.

Their research on the doctor turns up very little. After pouring over files, websites, and other documents, they discover he doesn’t seem to exist. He has no college record, no birth certificate, and no organization connections. The hospital records have him listed as Adam Warden. He’s worked there since 1990 as a general practioner. He definitely has medical knowledge though and works on patients everyday.

With some work they put together a sketch of his appearance. He has a family resemblance to Ambrose. His neighbors have never seen him at local parties. His finances are boring. He is 15 years into a 30 year mortgage on his house and has no outside investments.

As Sorenson begins his latest government conspiracy theory, Robert goes over their data.

Robert ask, “what I want to know is, is Grant an evil fiend controlling all of this or is he a pawn of some sort, having things happen to him?”

“It could be that he was just born with this ability that led to his recruitment,” Sorenson speculates.

“Our current employers just want to find him,” Shaw says. She argues Warden is connected to Grant somehow. He is clearly one of these Tulpas. He was also the last person to see Frank. He even shares Ambrose Grant‘s original first name. "Warden is our best live link but I don’t want to move in on him until Vito recovers."

Sorenson nods. “I agree we don’t want to leap into anything with him yet.”

“Our research is that he is a boring doppelganger,” Robert says. “He doesn’t do anything.”

Shaw considers that. “But it must be important if he’s held that position for so long.”

“And the coma patients were talking about him.”

“If that’s what they were talking about,” Sorenson opinions.

They discuss their next step. They still haven’t tried contacting Doretta, his ex-wife. She might be dead, but Frank’s file suggests she is a ghost. Sorenson suggests now might be the time. Robert warns it could be a trick and that she was really a doppelganger. Robert suggests dealing with tunnels beneath Hillcrest Center first.

Sorenson suggest Frank might now something. In the end they decide to talk to Frank. Then Shaw weighs in for dealing with the tunnels. “Our employers might not want us to tear down that wall. So I want to do it and then bill them for it. You talk to Frank and we’ll meet up with you after hours.”

Hillcrest Mental Health Center, Greenwood, May 13th, 4 PM

Frank sits down in Dr. Sorenson’s office. He seems relatively at ease.

“Frank, you seem to be doing a lot batter.”

“Yes, I think so,” he says cautiously.

“Well we have been looking into some of your old case work, hoping we would find some clues that would understand your condition a bit more. We came across a case you did: Doretta Teesdale. She originally contacted you in 1992 to investigate her ex-husband’s disappearance or death. She didn’t think he was dead. But what concerns me is that she died later that year. We are pretty sure of that. But then she contacted you in 2008 and you reopened the case. Do you remember meeting with her? Or do you think she was a ghost?”

“I don’t really remember,” Frank says after struggling to remember. He offers,“I remember her.”

Sorenson continues to probe. “Well the language was vague but your notes say you went to contact her and help her move on. It seems to insinuate she is a ghost.”

“I agree. I guess she might be. If she died and I talked to her after that.”

“Does any of this jogs your memory? It seems to be connected to the Sandmen with her husband’s case.”

“She told me something,” Frank says. “She had a reason, recently. I don’t remember why but she said she knew something about Grant. I can’t remember what.”

Dr. Sorenson asks if he met her at her house. After a moment he says, “Yes. It was a nice old Victorian home.”

“Was that the first time in 1992?”

“I’m not sure.”

Dr. Sorenson asks the old detective about the Tulpas and other specifics but he doesn’t know or remember any of it. When he asks about the hidden tunnels under Hillcrest, he advises, “you should bring some guns.”

However when he mentions Harborview, it sparks something. “Harborview, harborview. there was soemthing…the was something there.”

“Something? Like a creature? Or a place or object?” Sorenson asks.

“Creature or person?” He tries to remember. “Someone or something is there.”

“We believe a tulpa is there. We think Dr. Warden is one of these creatures and using the hospital as his base of operations.”

“Did he do this to me?” Frank asks.

“I don’t know. Its possible.” The doctor mentions Frank’s records of his earlier memory lapses back in the 90s.

“You should be careful then.”

“I will.”

As their session wraps up, Sorenson asks, “my last question is about Keystone. Did they have you do any work for them?”

“No.” The patient mulls it over. “Keystone. There was a friend who worked for Keystone.”

“Do you know their name?”

“No,” Franks sighs.

“Man or woman?”

“Man. He had dark skin.”

“He was a personal friend or was he a business friend?”

Frank struggles to remember context. “I guess we were personal friends.”

Sorenson continues to pick at Frank’s mind for details. “When you say dark skin do you mean African American?”

“No.” Frank struggles for a moment. “Indian.”

Sorenson’s mind flashes to the mention of Rajiv. “And you trusted him?”

“Yes.”

“Was his name Rajiv? Was that his name?”

Frank seems relieved. “Yeah that’s his name. Yes. I remember. Rajiv Ramadaas.”

Hillcrest Mental Health Center, Greenwood, May 13th, 6 PM

As Robert and Shaw arrive, Dr. Sorenson fills them in on his meeting with Frank as well as his friend Rajiv Ramadass.

“So Rajiv works for Keystone and provided information Fran,” Robert says. “So were they really friends or did Rajiv provide bad information?”

“Frank seemed to trust him,” the doctor says.

They discuss who they can really trust. Robert ends with, “Infinity has been helpful and all but I’ve read books. Often the big reveal at the end is that person who was helping you ends up being the villain all along. I know that this isn’t a book but I don’t know who trust right now.”

Shaw says, “at this point I wouldn’t be surprised if Ambrose is in the basement of Harborview somehow pulling the strings from his hospital bed.”

Robert points out that the report said that psychics could effect Tulpas.

They shelve that discussion for now. Before heading downstairs they check the video recording of the last week. No one enters but they can all hear creepy scratching noises from the wall.

Downstairs

The hallways are quiet as Shaw and Robert lug the saw downstairs while in work overalls. Sorenson accompanies them as a “supervisor”. Only Robert’s whistling fills the air.

The closet is unoccupied as usual. They move one of the dusty shelves out of the way, shifting the boxes of files and jars of organs and goo. They knock on the plastered-over brick. A hollow sound comes from one section.

As Sorenson watches the hallway, Robert gets out the saw and begins to cut through the wall. Twenty minutes later, the lower blocks tumble free and a hole is opened in the wall.

“Good job,” Shaw says.

Robert comments, “something was weird about these bricks they came out much easier.” As they clear out the debris they find the bricks have been half torn apart with claws.

Dr. Sorenson shines a flashlight into the hole. Old concrete stairs are illuminated. They go down.

Robert swigs a bottle of water. “That was hard work.”

Shaw moves some file boxes near the hole so they can hide the evidence afterwards. Consulting Erin’s map, these stairs should go to subbasement.

Sorenson warns them, “be prepared there could be something dangerous down there. Something was trying to claw it way out.”

As they go down the stairs, they find a thin layer of dust on the ground. there are no footprints or other signs of whatever made that noise.

“Anyone have doses of that drug left?” Robert asks.

“I have one dose but its back at my houseboat,” Shaw admits.

“I have some in my kit,” Dr. Sorenson reassures them.

“Good,” Robert says. “I don’t want to take it but its good we have it.”

The stairs open out onto a hallway. In the darkness, they can make out lights hanging from the ten foot high ceiling, old incandescents with disks surrounding them to focus the light down. The ground is still dusty and lacking in prints. As they decide which way to go, Shaw finds a light switch.

She pulls the switch. One by one they click on, except one down the left side which pops loudly. In the stark lighting they can see the discolored hallway stretching away in each direction.

“There’s electricity still in this wing,” Sorenson says surprised.

Cautiously they listen. After a period of silence, they hear distant giggling from left corridor.

They put their flash lights away and head left. They come across a pair of doors to either side. A dusty label on each says “Supplies.”

Robert says, “we should check these doors just in case.”

The doctor nods. “Plus they might be clues to what we are up against.”

The first contains boxes of equipment, including some early electroshock treatment gear. The other is full of decaying clothes, mostly hospital gowns and straight jackets.

Sorenson speculates, “so this is where they treated the really deranged patients with the barbaric treatments from back then.”

They continue down the hall. It turns right and passes an unlabeled door. Poking their heads inside they see rows of jars on shelves, each with a preserved organs. Some of the labels have peeled off and lie mixed up on the floor.

“It disturbs me that there are so many organs in jars. This isn’t normal,” Sorenson says.

The corridor turns right a final time and opens into a large chamber. Six steel tables with straps occupy the center of the room with ten doors with small windows lining the walls. Another corridor exits the room opposite.

Quietly they explore the chamber. Boxes of surgical tools and ice picks lie neatly stacked by the wall. Nothing has been used in a century but it all looks ready to be used at a moments notice.

Robert focuses on the doors. Each leads to a small patient cell.

Shaw looks down the other hallway. It appears to leading back the way they came. Disturbingly she can hear child-like giggling down the corridor they just left.

Then Robert finds one cell which has a man sized hole in the floor.

Shaw instructs him, “check the others first.”

“I wonder if this is where Community thought it could go,” Sorenson contemplates.

After finishing his inspection, he looks at the hole. Shining his light down, he can see it descend at an angle for fifteen feet. It looks easy to climb, though he’d hate to do it quickly.

Shaw suggests making a rope out of straight jackets. Robert says, “Let’s do that in case I get stuck down there.”

As they lower Robert down, they hear more giggling back the way they came. Dr. Sorenson turns to Shaw. “Should we be worried?”

She considers. “They could be bricking us in but you saw the children upstairs so its not like we let them out.” She makes sure they don’t sneak up on them in case.

Down in the tunnel, Robert find he has enough room to stand hunched over. He calls up, “there’s room to stand down here. Can you guys here me? The tunnel splits.”

Sorenson calls down, “yes, but I don’t think you should go any further on your own.”

Robert shines his light down each branch of the tunnels. On the right he sees something that doesn’t reflect his light. Its perhaps fifty feet down. The tunnel is cramped but maneuverable.

They pull him back up and talk. They decide to sweep the other hallway before they all go down. They quickly check the other hall, hearing the giggling from every so often. But there is no trace of the source. Shaw shines her light back up the stairs and sees the hole is still there.

They all return to the earthen tunnel. They descend. walls are made of compact dirt and rocks. Taking the right tunnel, they soon spot the object. It is a large black cube, a yard to a side, sticking out of the ground. It looks very similar to Community’s drawing.

The investigators have an unsettling feeling looking at the cube. It doesn’t reflect any of their light. Another cube is a short distance away poking out of a wall. A third seems be hovering in mid air.

“That’s a nice trick,” Sorenson says.

Taking a closer look at the cube, the doctor decides to see what its made of. He pulls out his pocket knife and scratches the surface. No damage is done to the cube, but it deforms like the surface of a LCD screen. A circle of light expands out from where the knife touched the cube, sending a rings about the cube. Strange symbols are illuminated as it passes.

Shaw instinctively moves away.

The knife in Trevor’s hand becomes icy cold. He drops it and it shatters on the hard ground. Suddenly they are all wracked by horrible pain.

After a moment they stop screaming. But Sorenson freaks out. Faced with the impossibility of this object, he pulls out his gun and pulls the trigger.

As Shaw begins to move in response, she sees a small group of giggling children filling the tunnel behind them.

View
Cold Case, Part I

Seattle, Spring of 2010

Shaw attends her sessions with Dr. Sorenson regularly slowly regaining control over her fears of supernatural.

Trevor however has to look elsewhere for help. Shaw suggests talking with a police psychiatric councilor she knows. Stewart King works with victims of violence and might be able to help Sorenson with his nightmares of violence. After vetting him with his own contacts, Sorenson sets an appointment with Dr. King.


“You can call me Stew,” the psychiatrist says.

Trevor is nervous. The window his right looks out on a city street. He feels exposed.

“How are you feeling?” Stew asks.

“I just feel like the world is just dangerous,” he plies, thinking how to hide the real cause of his problems. “Part of it is that I feel like my own work I’m dealing with patients all the time who describe abuse and violence. It is making me feel unsafe. I’m taking it on myself. And I need help reorienting that so I’m not taking the weight and burden of the troubles of my patients.”

Stewart starts him on some deep breathing exorcises.

After few sessions, Stew asks, “Is there something in your life that is bringing these feelings to the surface?”

Realizing Stewart is becoming wise to his deflections, Trevor tries to give him an editted account of the truth. He vaguely describes some of the issue he has encountered while consult with One of a Kind Investigations. “Really I think its compounded by the work I do.”

But Stew probes deeper and Trevor tells him, “Some of it is classified so I can’t go into details.” He alludes to some government work hoping the psychiatrist won’t poke further.

“In fact I witness someone being shot and killed right in front of me,” Trevor offers. “I think that really is the issue.”

Stew backs off of the specifics for now and asks him how that situation made him feel.

“Well I feel responsible for the violence inflicted on this person.,” Trevor says. “They were dangerous but somehow I still feel responsible for their death.”

As the months pass, Trevor too makes progress on his issues but much slower. It is not helped by his research into the history of the Hillcrest Mental Health Center.

Community‘s directions check out. One day in April he enters the basements and finds the closet it mentioned. The wall that needs to be broken down is old and cracked. The closet is full of strange glass jars filled with organs in formaldehyde. Some jars contain an odd black sludge. Boxes of dusty files cover the floor. As he takes it all in he rationalizes to himself, ’Are these left overs from morgue? There is so much red tape to dispose of these like this.’

He decides to watch if any people are using this area before proceeding further.

Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, April 28th

Robert Mill’s phone rings. He picks it up. VI is on the line.

He tells him that his scientist friend, a Dr. Trott, is finally available to look at the Sandmen that Dr. Ilyes has locked in his basement.

“Great,” Robert says. “When and where?”

“He’s busy during the day but maybe tomorrow evening,” VI offers.

“Thanks for getting in touch with me. I look forward to hooking up with him and taking a look at it.”

“Okay,” he says hanging up.

Robert heads to Shaw’s office and fills her in. They decide to bring Vito and Dr. Sorenson to the meeting as well. Shaw calls Ilyes to make sure it is a good time to see it. The doctor sounds under the weather but is eager to have another scientist look it over. He explains he has put the creature under a vacuum, which has slowed but not stop its rate of healing.

Dr. Ilyes’s house, Bellevue, Washington, April 29th, 9 PM

The investigators gather together for the first time in months in front of Ilyes’s house as a SUV pulls up. V.I. and Dr. Trott get out. The man accompanying the hoodie clad youth is fit with dark graying hair and a bushy beard. He is wearing an ugly orange and purple sweater and lugging a heavy pack on one shoulder.

He greets Shaw in a thick German accent. “Hello, good to meet you.”

“And you,” Shaw replies shaking his hand.

“My friend has told me a bit about you,” he says.

“That’s good,” she says as she gestures to the others. “These were the fellows who with me when we captured the monster.”

The psychiatrist steps forward. “I’m Dr. Sorenson. You can call me Trevor.”

“You call him Bjorn,” he says smiling. “What are you a doctor of?”

“Psychology.”

“And you?” Shaw asks.

“I am a physicist,” he explains.

Robert ask, “I’ve heard you’ve had some experience dealing with these things before?”

“I’ve investigated a variety of such creatures.”

“It be great if you could have a look at this thing. Its pretty weird.”

“Then let’s have a look at it.”

Ilyes is still recovering from the flu but shows them downstairs. “Francine” is encased in concrete with a full fishtank rigged to drop on it at a moment’s notice. The others can see that it has been slowly healing. The damage from the bullets and shrapnel has scarred over and the Y-incision is slowly mending. The cranial cavity is still open to the air however. Finally the portions exposed to water remain still damaged and none of the strange dust has reappeared.

“I have…” Ilyes coughs handing Trott a stack of research notes.

Dr. Trott looks over notes and begins his own investigation. From his pack he removes several complex devices.

“Mind if I ask what you are measuring?” Shaw asks.

He mentions some technobabble about measuring its electromagnetic field and other physical properties. Dr. Sorenson can tell he knows what he is discussing. It includes some fringe science but is mostly mainstream.

After half hour of this, he puts down his tool. “I’ve seen similar things though not of this sort,” he explains. He asks to see a sample of the dust they collected and pours over the analysis that Robert’s friend, Michael Matthews, collected. “Mmm. I’ve never seen anything like this.”

“Yeah, neither had the guy at the university,” Shaw says.

“But I have encountered creatures with similar properties.”

“Where?”

“Sacramento, Denver,” he lists.

“Were they also easy to forget?” Shaw asks.

“No,” he says. “Not at those locations.”

“Then what makes them similar?”

“The healing after death,” he explains, “the distortion of photographic media, the reanimation.”

“Have you talked to one?” Robert asks.

“Once,” he says hesitantly.

“What could they tell you?” the detective asks.

Reluctantly Bjorn says, “they had nothign relevant to this. They seemed mostly concerned with feeding on people.”

“Could they tell you where they came from?” he presses.

“They claimed to have magical powers,” scientist says disdainfully.

“What do they call themselves?” Shaw asks.

“I’ve encountered a few subspecies. Each had its own name for its kind.”

Vito asks a question. “Did they seem to be aware of each other?”

“I’ve not be able to ascertain if they have a culture or society.”

“You said they slowly heal.,” Robert says. “Do they come back from the dead?”

“Yes,” he says firmly. “Though the time for revival can be quite variable. For some it can take months while others never seem to recover.”

“Do they retain cognitive function or memories from prior to the damage?” Dr. Sorenson asks.

“I believe so.” Dr. Trott looks at ‘Francine’. “Though I’ve never encountered one that survived having its head open before.” He peers into its skull.

“So it is possible this one won’t reanimate.,” Shaw speculates. “Since it has lost its consciousness.”

“Possibly. My other interactions with them would suggest that removal of the brain is instantly fatal. They turn to ash or quickly decay.”

“Well it doesn’t have a brain,” Shaw says.

Robert adds, “unless that sand was brain-like in function.”

Robert asks about what the possible origins are of these creatures. Dr. Trott offers a few theories. The creatures themselves claim to be vampires and to be descended from Caine or Dracula.

“That’s interesting,” Robert says. “That’s something a human would do. Claim some sort of more powerful origin. Where as if they were alien they wouldn’t care to do something like that.”

Dr. Trott agrees and doesn’t believe their stories either.

Dr. Sorenson ask, “do you have any theories on what energies are being used on the cellular repair here? There has to be an energy source.”

Dr. Trott suspects that they derive power from a food source. In other cases it was blood. The same principal should hold here but perhaps in a more rarefied form.

Shaw asks if the others he encountered were once human. Dr. Trott says yes. They were turned into monsters. Dr. Sorenson thinks back to the research at he encountered at Verdant Technologies. Shaw asks if he found any connections to Keystone Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Trott isn’t even aware of the company.

Shaw explains her interest. “They seem to be researching these creatures and know more about them. But I don’t trust their motives.”

Dr. Trott tells them his research has indicated that the creature have been around for a long time, perhaps centuries. They live on the fringes of society. However he doesn’t believe their theatrical stories of their origin.

They discuss how to kill the creatures. Fire is confirmed as a viable option. Dr. Sorenson says, “We’ve been doing some research ourselves into holy water.”

Dr. Trott is dismissive of the idea by Shaw confirms Sorenson’s observations. Dr. Trott is sure there is some sort of energy field imbued into the water.

VI pipes up. He says he isn’t sure there isn’t some sort of holy power. “I knew this one guy. He was a street preacher. He could cast out demons.”

Dr. Sorenson asks, “What should we call these creatures?”

Dr. Trott calls the ones he has encountered ENEs, or specifically hemovores. “What do these versions feed on?”

“Well I guess the brain,” Shaw says. “That’s what happened to our friend.”

They fill him in on Frank’s condition. Robert adds, “memory loss however is one of the main components.”

Dr. Trott considers. “So it sounds like it feeds off the brain and perhaps memories.”

Dr. Sorenson tries to clarify, “it actually seems more like the damage of parasites. We’ve also heard rumors of spiders involved. Though whether that is related or a manifestation of the process is unclear.”

Dr. Trott looks at him. “I’ve heard of a case like that. Spiders that is.”

“Brain spiders?”

“Yes a colleague of mine told me about it. It was a few years ago in Virginia.”

Dr. Ilyes perks up at the mention and asks for more details. Dr. Trott offers to send him his friend’s report.

They also discuss the dopplegangers but Dr. Trott hasn’t seen anything like them. He promises to keep them in mind in the future.

“Well we appreciate you taking the time to look into this,” Robert says. “As I mentioned we are particularly interested in knowing where they came from. If you ever learn more about that let us know.”

“Sure. I’ll be happy to pass that information along.”

“Well I’m glad you could come,” Shaw says. “It always seems the more we look into this stuff the more questions we have.”

“We are in the holding pattern for now,” Robert says. "Waiting until the next shoe to drop. Well thanks for your time and please let us know if you learn anything we might find useful.

They exchange business cards and Dr. Trott heads back to Portland.

Seattle, First week of May

Dr. Sorenson has been watching the basement of the Hillcrest Mental Health Center closely. The only one who passes near the closet is a janitor who sweeps the hall once a week.


Shaw meanwhile invites Vito Vitacelli into her office. As he sits down, she says, “I was a little surprised to find out about your moonlighting. I realize it is probably important to you plus you are probably making a fair amount off of it. I am not going to attempt to convince you to stop.”

“Actually I’m not making that much,” Vito says.

“Oh. Well be that as it may, I don’t think you would stop just because I asked you to.” She watches him closely.

“Not if it comes through official channels.”

“I’ll take that as a no,” she says sourly. “That being the case, you are too valuable an employee to let go and its clear these two lines of investigation are going to cross occasionally. However I don’t want any of these strictly separate jobs to reflect badly on the company. I’ve drawn up a revision to your contract.” She pushes several papers toward him. “As you can see the two areas flagged, the only ones changed, say that One of a Kind investigations is not liable for anything you do off the clock. Would you be willing to sign that?”

He looks it over. “Yes.”


Dr. Soreonson stops by during the week. He joins Shaw and Vito in the break room. “I’ve look into this lost buried subbasement and there seems to be extremely low activity there. So we probably could get in without being observed. Unfortunately it involves breaking down an old brick wall.”

Vito suggests forging a work order for him and he can remove it.

“You’re sure its not in use?” Shaw asks.

“I haven’t seen signs there is any regular activity at all,” the doctor says.

Vito suggests installing a camera in there to make sure. Dr. Sorenson agrees. He borrows a camera from them and sets it up in the closet. Just to be sure nothing is going on in there.

Hillcrest Mental Health Center, Greenwood, May 6th, 10 AM

Dr. Sorenson looks over his notes for session with Frank. The old etective is improving. He has his vocalizations under control and seems less anxious. He still has serious issues but in another year…

Frank interrupts his thoughts. “I think I remember something else now.”

“Regarding what?” he asks.

“You asked me if I had files,” the balding man says. “I think I had – I had another set of files.”

“Do you remember where you had these files?” Sorenson says calmly.

“Yes. I think I remember having…a storage locker.” He struggles to remember. “It was in Tacoma.”

“Tacoma. Okay,” sorenson says, quickly jotting this down. “Was this a large storage facility or it more just locker size?”

“It was large. I was…Midlan. Midland. Midland storage or something of that sort.”

Excited Sorenson asks, “did you have a key to it? How did you access it?”

“There was a key. And a lock.” Frank frowns. “I can’t remember where the key is. I think the unit was number 493.”

“I’m sure we can verify that,” he consoles the patient. “Do you want us to retrieve what is there if possible?”

“I think, I think it might be useful.”

“Alright. It might be better for all of our safety if we find it.” Sorenson offers him some encouragement, “its really promising that you are able to remember all of these details. I think in a few more months if continue your progress you might make a full recovery.”

“I’m feeling calmer,” Frank says.

“Do you feel safer?”

He hesitates. “A little bit.”


After his session Dr. Sorenson calls Shaw. “Hey Frank’s had a breakthrough. He’s got another storage location in Tacoma where he might have equipment or files on his extracurricular cases he was working on.”

“Okay, that’s great,” she says.

Sorenson says more seriously, “he doesn’t have a key but we might be able to work around that.”

“Well we have power of attorney so we can get into the locker,” she reminds him. She gets the details on the storage unit. “I’ll look into that.”

Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, May 6th, 12 PM

Shaw looks up Midland Storage. The name turns out to be Midland Self Storage. The 1000 unit storage facility is about an hour away. She browses its garish website. Advertisements for 10 by 10 storage units invite her to ‘contact us here for exciting storage opportunities’. Shaw works out that the facility is the typical rows of roll up garage doors.

She calls them up. A woman on the other lines introduces herself as Justine Tibbits. “Hey Mrs. Tibbits.”

The other woman asks. “Hi are you interested in some storage?”

“Yes and no.” Shaw decides to bluff a bit. “I’m looking into my uncle records. He’s not doing to well lately and I’m trying to organize his estate. I just recently learned he has been renting storage with you for some time. Locker number 843?”

She hears the riffling of papers on the other end.

Shaw continues, “first I want to check that all the bills have been paid on time.”

The paper sound stops. “Oh I’m sorry. Um, it looks like your uncle hasn’t paid us in quite some time.”

“I was afraid of that,” Shaw says her hopes dropping slightly. “I had hoped that there was sort of automatic payment set up.”

“We had to auction off the contents,” Justine says sadly.

“When did that happen?” Shaw says with a sinking feeling.

“This was a few months ago. February 20th.”

“This is going to be devastating,” Shaw says adding some extra emotion. “Do you have any records of who bought the various items?”

Justine takes pity on her. “Yes. Sam Jacobs. He is a pawn shop owner in Auburn. Jacobs & Sons. He bought the lot.”

“I guess that’s something.” Shaw plays for more information. “I guess that’s how it goes. I don’t know what is valuable and its all sentimental anyway.”

“I’m sorry,” Justine says.

“So you cleared out the whole lot?”

“Yes, it looks like he had a few boxes, a motorcycle, a trunk full of clothes.”

“Well thanks. I guess I’ll have to contact this Mr. Jacobs and see if I can get any of this stuff back.” Before hanging up she checks the mailing address they have for Frank on file, jotting down the P.O. Box.

Shaw walks over to reception and talks to Mavis about the recent events. The older woman is happy to here about his husband’s progress. As to the storage facility, she had no idea he had one or that he still had that old motorcycle.


Later that day Shaw calls Robert Mill and Vito Vitacelli into her office. She fills them in on the new developments. She tells them , “I think we should go in person, rather than call the pawn shop.”

“So there is a motorcycle?” Robert muses.

“There are 5 banker boxes, a trunk of clothes, and a motorcycle. We want to get as much back as we can.”

“How much did the pawn shop owner pay?” vito asks.

“Not much. $200.”

They decide the motorcycle is likely already sold but the rest might still be there. The two detectives head to Auburn.

Auburn, Washington, 2 PM

Vito and Robert walk up to the pawn shop. Its nicer than most. There are still bars on the windows but the location is nicer than average. As they go inside they see shelves of oddities and collectibles.

Vito approaches the proprietor, an overweight and balding man named Sam. He explains why they are here. “We understand you bought his storage and we were wondering if you had anything left that we could buy back from you?”

After here his story, Sam rubs his brow. “So this Frank guy. What storage was he at?”

After they tell him the details, he turns the thin man behind the counter. “Benny watch the register. I’ll be right back.”

Sam disappears into the back room for a few minutes. He comes out with a heavily marked pad. “So yeah, there was a motorcycle, A trunk.” He rattles off a list of clothing items. “And those five boxes. Let’s see. I have all the glassware in one of the boxes plus most of the pictures and files from the rest.”

“What about the rest?” Vito asks.

“I sold the motorcycle a couple months ago. Still got the trunk. Most of the clothes are gone.”

Vito tells him, “we’ll buy the trunk and whatever clothes are left. As well as the files.”

“Someone was interested in the files?” Robert asks.

“Yeah I have a regular. He comes in usually once a week.” Same glances at the calendar. “He’s a writer. Says the stuff is inspirational.”

Vito and Sam haggle over the cost and they put it on the company tab.

As they finish up, Robert asks, “so this writer guy, I don’t now what the confidentiality rules are for pawn shops, but we’d like to get the other files.”

Sam looks up from the register with a grin. “Oh, yeah his name is Terrance, Terrance Smith. He lives a couple blocks from here.”

“Maybe he’d be willing to sell the papers to us,” Robert says.

“Yeah sure.” Sam gives them his address as well as the buyer of the motorcycle. Robert thanks Mr. Jacobs and they head out.

Outside, Rob calls Shaw. “We recovered most of the items. We of course are missing the motorcycle and a variety of clothes are gone. Disturbingly some of the files have been purchased by a writer named Terrance Smith. He says they’ve been inspirational in his writing which worries me a little bit.”

“That’s probably better some of the alternatives,” she says.

“Vito and I are going to go talk to him and see if we can get the rest of the files. He’s just up the road.”

“Sounds good.”


The two detectives reach Terrance’s apartment. Its on the second floor of residental home. They climb the exposed side stairs and knock on the balcony door.

After a few minutes of silence, Robert turns to Vito. “My inclination is to leave a message for the guy.”

“I think we should come back later,” the military man says. “I don’t want this guy to know we are coming. Who knows what is in that stuff Frank had.”

“He’s just a writer,” Robert protests.

“You can go back,” Vito replies. “I’ll stay here staked out.”

Robert shrugs and heads back to the car. As he fastens his seat belt, he texts Shaw: ’Wasn’t there. Vito’s staking out. I’m coming back. Agreed?"

Back at the office, Shaw reads Robert’s text irritably.

Vito’s phone rings and Shaw’s voice can be heard at the other end. “Vito, why are you staking out a private citizen?”

“I have a feeling based on Frank’s records and this guy’s reactions to them,” he explains. “I didn’t want to leave a note and allow him to mentally prepare. I want to hit before that.”

“You don’t have to mention the files in the note,” she tells him. “You can just mention that we are interested in his writing. He’s a writer. He will pick up the phone. That’s how they are.”

Vito insists on waiting.

Shaw relents. “I don’t want you to read too much paranoia into this. All he has is some mad scribblings. Don’t go hard on him.”

“I won’t,” he promises.

“And this is not billable.”

Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, Downtown, 4 PM

Shaw and Mill look over the boxes and other effects Mill brought back. Theclothes they put to one side. They are all nromal mens clothing in Frank’s size. Shaw and Mill pound and measure the trunk they came in but find no secret compartments.

One of the boxes is filled with glass bottles and flasks of varying sizes from wine bottles to medicine bottles. Neither of them are sure what to make of them.

Dr. Sorenson comes into the office to help. Together they each begin to look through the other four files. The dusty folders are filled with type written papers, faded Polaroids, and other evidence. It looks like case work but for strange cases.

Some of the files, particularly the older ones, seem to start like typical private eye cases. But then things get weird, supernatural things occur, and monsters come out of the shadows. There are documented encounters with ghosts, cults, shape-shifters, demons, even a sea monster. They make a note to check the records later to see if any of the Groetnich mythology is involved.

Most of the case date back to the late 70s through the late 90s. After an hour they are pretty sure that after 2002, Frank stopped adding reports. They also find mention of numerous associates:

  • Amy Smith, a lawyer
  • Eddie Stam, a journalist
  • Emerson Gutmann: noted as a Union man
  • George: no last name is mentioned, but the files suggests he might be a petty crook
  • Joseph Heisen
  • Kathleen: no last name is mentioned, but the files suggests she might be a police officer
  • Kathryn McNabb
  • Peter: no last name is mentioned, but the files suggests he might be a truck driver
  • Rajiv: no last name is mentioned, but the files suggests he has corporate ties and a scientific background

Also mentioned in Father Benedict, Frank’s preacher friend. The files note he is associated with a group known as the (associated with a group called the Malleus Maleficarum.

Shaw looks up the clock. Its almost 6 PM. They decide to break for dinner.

Terrance Smith’s apartment, Auburn, 6 PM

Vito stomach rumbles. Terrance still isn’t back. He decides something may have happened to him. The old man who has been puttering around the yard is back again.

Vito approaches the thin gray haired man. He asks, “has the guy above been around?”

The old looks up confused. “Terrance? No I haven’t seen him. Actually I’m a little concerned. He’s a bit late on the rent.”

“How much is the rent?” Vito asks.

“$400,” the man says surprised.

“He’s a friend of mine,” Vito explains. He pays off the old man, who introduces himself as Tom West, and asks him to let him know when Terrance is back.

The investigator walks a safe distance away and calls Shaw.

“He show up?” she asks, munching on some Chinese food.

“No,” Vito replies. “I just talked to the apartment manager. He hasn’t seen him in a while.”

“How long?”

“Well at least since the first of the month. He hadn’t paid his rent. I covered the rent for now.”

Shaw reminds him, “well legally the home owner has the right to enter the apartment. You can get him to open it up. Just know if he’s dead and decomposing in there you will have the cops to deal with. It’s better than breaking in.”

Vito heads back to the house. He tells the Tom, “I’m really worried about my friend. Would you mind going up and using your key to open it up?”

Mr. West is quite willing to help him and they go up to the apartment to check it out. The old man opens the door and sniffs. “Nobody’s dead.”

Vito takes in the sparsely furnished studio apartment. A table sits in center of room with a file folder open on it. Another is pressed up against the wall to serve as a desk. A laptop and battered printer take up most of the surface. A box of files sits nearby as well as a box of of what looks like printed manuscripts. A beat up couch, a wooden chair, and old TV complete the furnishings.

Vito enters the apartment and looks in the fridge. The date on the milk suggests Terrance has been out for a week and half. Look at the file, he notes the title “The Sewer Hauntings”. He pages through it mentally taking a snap shot. It describes some sort of sewer monster or ghost in Seattle’s sewers back in 1988.

After a moment, Tom says, “We should probably get going. Your friend doesn’t seem to be here.”

“Can I turn on the computer see if he left anything there?” Vito says.

Tom shrugs.

Vito clicks the laptop on but there is password protection. Not about to hack a computer in front of the land lord, he tries another tact. “I’m really worried about Terrance. These files are from a friend of ours who is in the hospital. This seems to be some really strange stuff.” Vito then convinces Tom to let him take the files.

Vito gives Tom his card. “If he comes back, tell him this is my current number and to give me a call please.”

He gets Tom West’s contact information as well and then Tom shows him out.

“Thanks Tom”

Vito takes his box and catches a bus north.

Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, Downtown, 7 PM

Vito comes into the office, carrying the final batch of files. The others clear some space on the meeting room table and look over the new additions.

One rapidly grabs their attention. Its the only file with recent alterations. Entitled the “Disappearance of Ambrose Grant”, its a case from the early 90s but apparently was reopened a few months before Frank went missing. The name Ambrose Grant stirs some memories. Shaw and the rest remember him as famous magician. Robert recalls that he drowned while on vacationing on his yacht.

The original case started off normal. Frank was hired by a Doretta Teesdale, Ambrose’s ex-wife. She believed her ex-husband wasn’t dead and wanted Frank to find him. Frank looked into the disappearance. The official report is that he disappeared off his yacht while off coast of Oregon on May 8th, 1989. He had been drinking and is presumed to fallen off the yacht and drowned.

Frank started by researching Ambrose’s life. He was a native of Seattle growing up in Yesler Terrace. He history after he left the city is sketchy but his rise to fame in the 70s is well documented. Frank also looked into his client’s marriage to Grant and how they became estranged. His client seemed to believe her husbands claim to psychic powers but urged him not to use them for his own safety. A special report from Rajiv is inserted here with an evaluation of the magician’s supposed powers.

Before Frank got much further, he began to suffer strange encounters and missing time. He recorded this carefully. He apparently encountered some unidentified men one night who tried to get him off the case forcefully. A cryptic note claims the men were “empty”.

Then Doretta died, snapping her neck when she fell down the stairs of her Rainier Valley home. His client dead, he closed the case.

Then in 2008, Frank reopened the case. His notes claim “Doretta contacted me”. She apparently hired him to “help her move on”. Shaw and Trevor both hesitantly voice their suspicious that Doretta is a ghost.

The newer material provides a larger section on the possible supernatural abilities of Ambrose, again thanks to Rajiv. Mostly compiled from Grant’s known feats, they include astral projection, clairvoyance, precognition, postcognition, psychometry, and telekinesis. He is also recorded as being a skilled escape artist and con artist. The new material also includes a computer printout with details of Ambrose’s history in the 1960. It claims he was employed by the CIA as a spy and assassin. It also adds to the records of his youth. There is a strange lack of detail. It become clear to the investigators why. Ambrose’s childhood home was next door to the lair of the Sandmen. Even more interesting, this file was given to Frank by a new contact: Infinity.

With these new sources, Frank was able to finds records of a paralyzed patient who was found washed ashore around the right time. The man who was brought to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center. The last entry in the file, dated a day after Frank’s last known appearance, says that he is heading to the hospital to find out what happened to the man.

As they take in the information of what Frank really was doing and where he likely vanished, their attention turns to the issue of Terrance Smith.

Vito shows them the file on the Sewer Hauntings. The original case involved a group of sewer workers in 1988 who reported strange noises in the sewers. At the same time the local dogs were going missing at an unusual rate. Eddie Stam brought the matter to Frank’s attention. The two othem along with Peter and Kathleen investigated. The report claims a small family of cannibals lived under the streets of downtown Seattle. The investigators were forced to destroy them once they learned they were eating people.

If Terrance went looking for evidence, he might not return.

May 7th and 9th

The investigators spend their evenings continuing Frank’s research as well as looking into Terrance Smith.

They find his blog and twitter account. They paint the picture of a skeptic who’s faith slowly erodes as he studies Frank’s files. He mentions cases of missing animals in the area of the sewer hauntings in the modern day in his posts. And his last tweet is “Going down” as he investigates the tunnels beneath the city. Shaw’s police contacts are able to get some video footage of the area. Terrance definitely was in the area. Shaw doesn’t believe he is still alive. She notifies the police and leaves it in their hands.

As for Ambrose Grant, they learn his real name is Adam Freud and he was born in 1942. From some phone calls with people who lived in the area, they learn he had a reputation as a child for telling wild stories about ghosts. He was ultimately sent to the Hillcrest Center for psychiatric treatment.

Shaw comments, “whether he was psychic or not, he had some sort of abnormality which allowed him to see the Sandmen.”

Dr. Sorenson is able to access some of his records at Hillcrest. He was a patient from 1955 to 1960. Its unclear what happened to him but he was under the personal care of Dr. Moorcock, the director at the time. He was apparently involved in some research projects funded by the U.S. government, possibly part of the same batch of research as the MKUltra project. Ambrose was discharged in 1960 and vanished.

“Recruited out of the Hillcrest center for the CIA,” Shaw muses.

During the 1960s, he location is less clear but they find sightings of him in various countries, particularly in Eastern Europe. Towards the end of that period, he apprenticed to a stage magician in Berlin. The whole affair is suspicious, as Robert Mill notes.

More recently by searching through microfiche they find records of a man washed ashore shortly after Ambrose’s disappearance. He was paralyzed but there are very few details in the articles. But the rough measurements could be his. The man was transferred to Harborview Medical Center.

Vito decides someone needs to examine Terrance’s last known location. He visits the sewer grate mentioned in the file. Someone has moved it recently.

May 10th

The investigators decide to look into the background of Doretta Teesdale as well. Born in 1960, Doretta belonged to a well established family local to Seattle. They had fallen on hard times due to various issues, including an uncle with a gambling problem. She first met Ambrose when she was 17 and they married 1979. As they already knew the marriage didn’t last.

She divorce him in May 1984. Because she was now financially dependent on him, she continued lived with him for the next 5 years. After his death, she moved back to Seattle. Due to Ambrose’s uncertain fate, she never inheritted any of his wealth. When the state declared him dead in 1996, various distant relatives laid claim to his fortunes. They also track down the location of her house.

Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, Downtown, May 11th

After their research, Shaw decides they should to focus on Ambrose. He is their last link to what happened to Frank.

The investigators discuss one other option. Rajiv, Frank’s friend, obviously knows something. A first name isn’t much to go on but he lived in the area for over 25 years, at least until 2008.

Another possible lead is Infinity. They don’t trust him though. He might even be one of the monsters, just opposed to the rest. Or he might be a ploy by VI.

In the end they decide to send Infinity a message: ‘We are following leads on Ambrose Grant. We’ve heard he is associated with the Sandmen. We are going to check out Harborview Medical. Do you have any interest in helping us with our inquiries?’

A reply comes quickly: ‘Be careful. Your friend tried to do the same thing. I don’t know if Ambrose is there. Records suggest he was moved to the Garden. I’ll keep my eye on you.’

Dr. Sorenson recognize’s the last reference. The Garden is what they call the coma ward in the West Wing of Hillcrest. He informs the others. “He might actually be still here! That’s what we call the coma ward. Because they are all vegetative so we call them vegetables.”

Robert is a little upset about the staff’s name for the patient ward.

“Maybe I could follow up on that,” Sorenson offers.

The others decide to check out Harborview Medical Center to see what Frank found.

Hillcrest Mental Health Center, Greenwood, 9 PM

Its night when Dr. Sorenson arrives. He hurries into the basement to grab the surveillance camera first. The lower levels are empty, dimly lit by florescent lighting.

The closet door opens easily and he reaches up to the shelf where he hid the camera. As he does he hears a skittering noise from behind the walls. The noise is too large to be rats. Its coming from the wall they intend to break down. Worried he grab the camera and leave.

Calming down he heads for the Garden. A gentle symphony of life support machine beeps fills the air. He pulls out a picture of Ambrose Grant. One by one he checks it against the John Does. He also looks over the medical charts to see when each one was admitted.

He is making good time when he hears some muttering behind him. A patient, still in a coma, is peaking. “Warden..Warden.. No.. Won’t.. let go..”

Sorenson checks the old woman. The brain scans indicate she is still in a coma. After a moment she subsides into silence. He realizes that the charts indicated a number of the patients here have some autonomic vocalization behavior.

A bit creeped out, he hurries on. Hillcrest is silent. The orderlies have all retired to toher floors. He reaches the last row of patients. His mind boggles at the expense of supporting all of these people. The special orderlies, the manager of the ward, and all of those security cameras. All paid for by a non-for-profit. What is the Pleseus Guild anyway?

He checks the last few patients. Ambrose isn’t here. Then Trevor hears more muttering. “The gears..the gears…”

As he glances around, he hears other patients join in. “They turn… they turn..”

He can here coma patients from other rooms joins in. The ones in his room begin to finish each others sentences. Freaked out he leaves.

It takes a bit longer but he again regains his calm. He checks out the facilities records. He tracks down the record for the John Doe’s transfer and his file. But its seems off. The proper signatures are missing for the transfer document. It all seems to involve the Pleseus Guild. Reading between the lines of the documentation, it looks less like helping a coma patient and more studying a paralyzed but fully aware person. In any case the records stop after 3 weeks.

Harborview Medical Center, Yesler Terrace, 9PM

As the detective approach the hospital, Shaw tells Vito to talk to hospital security about Frank. Then she and Mill go to find a contact of Dr. Ilyes, a nurse named Jackie Porcella.

They encounter her in the lobby.

“Thanks for agreeing to talk to us,” Shaw says.

“Yeah, sure,” the nervous woman says.

“We are investigating a kind of cold case. The subject went missing many years ago. In fact he’s been declared dead. We have reason to believe that he may have been recovered and declared a John Doe. We don’t know the exact state he was in. For all we know he’s somewhere in a coma ward. But we know he was transferred here and we are hoping to find some records. We were hoping you might be sympathetic to this cold case. People who get lost in the shuffle.”

Jackie hesitates. “Sure I guess I can look into the records and see what there is.”

Shaw supplies the details and she leads to the records room.

Meanwhile back at the security desk, Vito explains to them, “We are trying to find out what happened to a friend of ours who was committed. We found some papers of his that indicate he was here on November 13th 2008. I just wanted to see if he signed any visitor’s log.”

With some effort he gets them to find the log. He find Frank’s signature. He signed it in the evening and stayed an hour. He was visiting a Dr. Warden. “Thank you. Appreciate it.”

Vito texts Shaw: ‘He was there for an hour talking to Dr. Warden.’

As Shaw reads the text, Jackie steps out of the records room to talk to them. “I looked into it. there was a John Doe here at the time, but the records are a little messed up. There are two transfer records out of the hospital but no record of him returning.”

“Could we take a look at them ourselves?” Shaw asks. “This is part of our job.”

Jackie looks up and down the hallway. “I shouldn’t…but I guess I can let you have a look at them.”

She goes back into the records room and comes out with the files. The files show the John Doe who might have been Ambrose was admitted on May 16th 1989. A week after his admittance he was transferred to the Hillcrest Center. But the form is unsigned by the attending physician. Three weeks later he is transferred again this time to Swedish Medical Center. This form is signed. Shaw notes the attending physician’s name as Dr. Krocyzinski.

The medical files are more enlightening. The subject was paralyze due to a neck injury, probably from a blunt object. He was conscious and otherwise healthy. But he was unable to interact with the outside world. There are also no records between the two transfer forms. There is also no sign of a Dr. Warden in the records.

Just then Robert notices a doctor making his way down the hall. He looks around but the three of them are alone in the hallway with no easy location to hide. So intercepts the doctor while Shaw hides the files.

“Doctor, doctor, I’m confused,” he says.

“Who are you?” the dark haired doctor asks.

“I’m I’m ". Robert gasps and falls down.

Shaw hurries over, feigning surprise. “Oh my god what happened?”

The doctor crouches down and examines his vitals.

“Is he okay?” Shaw asks. Behind her, Jackie sneaks the records back.

The doctor looks up. “I think he will be okay.”

Robert blinks and opens his eyes. “Ow. I hit my head. What’s going on?”

“I’m not sure,” the physician admits. “You said you were having some problems and then you passed out.”

“I don’t recall that. I do black out from time to time but its no big deal. I get a little excited and my blood pressure rises and I faint. Its normal.”

The doctor puts on a serious expression. “Perhaps you should have a physical examination. It could be a symptom of something more drastic.”

“I guess I’m in the right place then.”

“I told you to have this looked at,” Shaw says.

“So who are you two?” the doctor asks.

“Oh I’m Jessica, Jessica Lane,” Shaw lies.

“Jack, Jack Redmen,” Robert says. “I’m sorry to disturb you. I don’t know what happened. I’m sorry.”

“Alright,” the doctor says.

“Can you point me towards the ER?”

The doctor gives them directions and Shaw leads Robert away.

Once safely away, Robert says, “I’m not sure if that’s the distraction we needed. I may have overdone it.”

“Maybe,” she replies sarcastically.

They reach the lobby and Shaw checks the board post. Dr. Warden is listed there as a general practitioner. She lets Robert and Vito go.

Outside Harborview Medical Center, Yesler Terrace, 10PM
time ~ 9 PM

As she stands outside the hospital, Shaw calls to make an appointment with Dr. Warden.

As she navigates the hospital phone system, the line suddenly goes dead.

Looking at her phone, a text message appears. ’Don’t trust Dr. Warden. He knows who you are.’ There is no sender.

Pissed off at Infinity, Shaw calls Dr. Sorenson.

Trevor’s phone rings and he jumps in fright. Picking it up he says, “sorry I was-”

“Did I interrupt something?” Shaw asks, cutting him off.

“No it was a creepy here. I visited the coma looking for our patient. It was the scariest thing. All the patients started babbling incoherently, they kept finishing each others sentences. They were talking about a warden and the gears turning.”

“Warden, like a prison?” she asks.

“That’s what I thought they were talking about too. Like their minds were in a prison.” Trewor shivers.

Shaw thinks for a moment. “Warden. Could it have been a Dr. Warden?”

“I don’t know. There isn’t a Dr. Warden at Hillcrest.”

Shaw fills Dr. Sorenson on what they learned about Frank’s last case.

“That could be a coincidence,” Trevor says in reference to the Dr. Warden. “Than again I’m learning coincidence isn’t always what it seems.”

“Also I’m pretty sure Infinity is listening in on all of my phone calls,” Shaw says. “Hi Infinity.”

Dr. Sorenson tells her about his experience earlier in the evening when he went to grab the camera. “But there is something alive behind the walls. I don’t know what it is.”

“What?”

“Like a rat infestation. So when we break through we need to be prepared.”

“Like bring rat poison?” Shaw says.

Trevor thinks how big the sounds were. “Well guns or something to scare them off.”

The conversation turns to how both Hillcrest and the hospital are nasty places with dark histories.

“Maybe it was a coverup,” Shaw says about Ambrose’s files. “Maybe they only needed him there for 3 weeks. Then they transferred him to another location.”

“Well..he wasn’t really a coma patient,” Sorenson says. He explains the paralysis. “He shouldn’t have been in that ward. The files seem to refer to the patient as a research subject rather than as a patient.”

Sorenson starts to describe the coma ward. “I don’t know what is going on there. I don’t feel safe there at night. Not alone. I don’t know who I can trust there. It’s all run by a private company, the Pleseus Guild.”

“Why don’t you go home doctor,” Shaw advises. “Get some rest.”

Sewers, Downtown, Midnight

Vito walks over the sewer grate. A shot gun hangs hidden under a large rain coat. As he slides the grate open, he puts on a hat with a built in light. He climbs down in search of Terrance.

He discards his coat and makes his way through the tunnels. Following the instructions in Frank’s files, he makes his way through the narrow water logged tunnels to a ladder. He climbs part way up it and swings though a gap in the wall. The new tunnel system consists of several links basements, sealed over and partially filled with rubble.

Moving slowly and quietly he finds signs of recent activity, dust and dirt disturbed by the passage of something man sized.

He arrives at the old cannibal lair. Only the black stains of the final fire and a few well gnawed bones remain. He spots the tracks of someone’s shoes. It could be Terrance.

Looking at the scene more closely, it is clear this area has been disturbed. The skulls of the cannibals are missing. Crouching down he makes out the tracks of an unshod human foot. As he puts his hand out to get up, he finds the rock shift. Pull it away from the wall, he finds a small niche. Only some decomposing bedding and a tiny crib remain but some child slept here. This niche wasn’t burned.

Vito decides to follow Terrance’s tracks. As he reaches an intersection, a hulking shadow rises behind Vito to grab him.

View
Body of Evidence, Part III

Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, Downtown, March 15th, 1 PM

Shaw watches Vito’s face as he watches the video on her phone. As the gun shot ring out over the speaker, she asks “Have you ever seen anything like that?”

The soldier mulls over the image of the creature, Community, removing its disguise. “Don’t you think your response was a little bit overboard? Shooting the poor thing. That’s my buddy from Afghanistan.”

“What?” Shaw says, shocked.

“That was my buddy’s face,” he explains. “Petty Officer Gilmore. There were some interesting things that happened over there.”

“Explain please.”

Vito tells her the story of the night of the raid on the village. About how they were shot down and found the soldier, villager and insurgents all dead. Finally he relates how Gilmore was killed in action. “But according to my sources, he was reported coming back into the country a couple months ago. I think he might be coming after me. I had a run in with him a couple nights ago.”

“You knew this thing was here?” Shaw says half rising from her desk.

“It was a personal thing,” he explains. “It ran away.”

“What is it do with the bodies?” she asks.

“I don’t know but does Mary Shelly ring any bells.”

Shaw chews him about withholding information from her. Vito backpedals and explains he was working for the government.

“I thought you were out of the services,” she says, sitting back down.

“When you are special forces you are never really out of the service,” he offers.

Shaw asks if he shared any of their information with these agents.

“No,” he replies.

Shaw weighs his response. She decides she trusts him. “Is there anything you can tell me about the creature that will help our investigation?”

Vito informs her about the radio tracking device the agents have implanted in it. “If we had some sort of scanner we might be able to track it.”

He continues, “with you permission, I’d like to talk to my other contacts and see we can’t work together on this. We are working to the same ends.”

“What is the end goal of your mission?” she asks.

“They are trying to eliminate it.”

Shaw is okay with that and gives Vito a copy of the video.

Hillcrest Mental Health Center, Greenwood, March 15th, 1 PM

Dr. Trevor Sorenson mulls over a theory about the patients. With the revelation of Frank’s condition and the children, he is starting to think people are being driven crazy by encounters with supernatural.

There is knock at the door and a moment later an orderly leads Lara Woronov into the room.

The blond haired woman sits down opposite him. He nods to the orderly and he leaves them alone. “How are you feeling today Lara?”

Her eyes focus on him. “I’m feeling fine doctor, how are you doing?”

“I’m always doing well, I love my job.”

She smiles. “I know its like on the letter head.”

Dr. Sorenson looks down at his pad People helping people are the greatest people in the world. Smirking, he begins to question his patient about her previous doctor. As he suspected Lara is convinced she was a nurse working with Yee Lin and not a patient. As he probes deeper he finds the stories to be exceedingly clever. She claims Dr. Stephenson hired her. He remembers the older doctor, he retired a few years ago. He’ll need to check in on him.

Trevor leans in toward Lara. He asks her what she knows about the basement.

“Aren’t the basements off limits?” she says.

“Of course but I’ve only been here for a few years. I’m always interested in hearing how things used to be,” he says hoping to learn more.

“Well we used that area for storage but no one has used it for a long time.”

He asks about the children at the facility. Lara claims not to interact with them but does voice a complaint about children wandering the halls after hours. She also lcaims to have seen strange doctors and nurses about after hours in the last few weeks.

He turns the conversation to her career. He ask if she had been promoted recently.

“I was kind of hoping that this meeting was about that,” she explains hesitantly.

Sorenson probes her duties and responsibilities. He notes she has cleverly included only the people and locations she actually interacts with. Her medical knowledge is substantial though. She clearly knows her stuff. However when he tries to trick her into a self diagnosis she is unable to figure out what is wrong with her.

After his meeting he talks to the nurses about Lara. They explain how much trouble she is. she is very convincing as a nurse and continually tricks visitors and new nurses that she works at the Hillcrest Center.

He also checks her medication. The mixture is complex and possibly dangerous. He notes that the mixture keeps here docile. She tends becomes problematic after few days off her meds, asking for her doctor or lawyer.

He also checks Lara’s claim about being at Dr. Stephenson’s retirement party. It turns out she had slipped into party.

Back at his office, he begins to plan to trace her records back to see where her issues developed.

Starbucks, Downtown, March 16th, 6 PM

Robert Mill sits down with Mr. Chang, night time supervisor at the County Morgue.

“Thanks for meeting with me,” he tells him.

“Sure,” Chang replies. He seems to be staring at Mill’s T-shirt.

Robert continues. “So I here you’ve been having difficulties with missing body parts.”

“Yeah, I guess Wilkens told you about that.” Chang sips his coffee.

“How long has this been going on?”

“About six weeks.” The well dressed man explains their own investigation: the camera photage, the different suspects each time and alibi for each. “Dr. Wilkens mentioned there was some really strange about the culprit.”

Robert explains that the culprit is a master of disguise and tends to cast suspicion on others.

“So its just one guy?” he says incredulously.

“As far as we know.”

He mulls it over. “I guess it makes sense. As much anything about this makes sense.”

“Unfortunately we weren’t able to apprehend the suspect last time,” Robert tells him.

“I heard it was a crazy scene.”

Mill’s mind turns back to that night. The sudden reveal of the monster, the gun shots, and the steel door being ripped off its hinges. He lies. “Seems like it was some sort of drug addict. He was shot and ran off. We were hoping if you were hire us we could at the least drive off the thief if not capture him.”

“I guess,” Chang says. The morgue worker seems skeptical of this causally dressed ‘detective’. In the end however Mill wins him over. He agrees to hire the firm for their standard rates. Together they discuss watching the area, with possibly one of the detectives working under cover as an employee.

“Miss Shaw will get back to you about how we will run this operation. But since we believe that it is an outside person breaking in, we will handle things differently. We’ll try to cause as little disruption as possible.”

March 16th 7 PM

Vito’s phone rings.

Agent Gray’s voice is on the other end. “Up for tonight?”

“Yeah. I’ve come across something interesting that I’d like to talk to you about.”

“What is it?” the older man asks.

Vito thinks back tot he video. “You need to see for yourself.”

“Okay. The van will be by in a half hour.”


The black van soon arrives with Agent Noah driving. He tells Vito to get in the back. He explains, “there was a sighting north of the city, the others are up there now.”

Vito quickly shows him the video by Shaw.

“Where did this come from? Who took this?” the man in black asks.

Vito explains it was One of a Kind Investigations behind it.

Noah starts to drive north. As they make their way up the highway, Vito notices a folder that has slid off a shelve in the back. Some pictures and documents have spilled out. One of the documents mentions a Series C and subject C-6.

Noah pulls into a park. As he gets out, Vito quietly slips the folder into his computer bag.

Agent Gray approaches him as he gets out. Vito shows him the video. After a moment he says, “So it was disguising itself.”

“Yes, also from the conversation we learned that it needs additional organs so we should be concentrating on the morgues.”

Agent Gray thinks for a moment. “Well we have some signs here too. No morgues but perhaps it has a lair here.”

Vito turns to the darkened woods around them. The sky is cloudy and rumbles with distant thunder.

Agent Gray adjusts his black tie and continues. “We think it is somewhere in this park. There have been sightings near here. From what I know about creatures like this, they like to stay away from people. I want to have a better idea of where it is in the park.” He outlines a plan to scour the park, searching the cabins and other possible shelters for the creature. “I want you to search in teams of two. Agent Lynch will go with you.”

“By the way we need to arrange a drop point so I can contact you,” Vito says. Adent Gray assigns Noah to arranges something.

That night’s search comes up empty however. As they wrap up Vito asks Agent Gray to consider involving One of a Kind Investigations.

Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, Downtown, March 17th, 10 AM

Vito looks over the folder. It is a partial copy, heavily marked up, of a Department of Defense report on a Project Myrmidon. Apparently a military group known as Task Force: Valkyrie partners with a chemical company by the name of Ascendant Industries. The company, a private contractor, conducted a series of experiments in making a better soldier. Oddly to Vito there are classification markings.

He flips through the papers one last time. The project had three phases before being shut down. The Series A experiments focused on tissue grafts, drug treatments, and bio-augmentation. Generally unsuccessful, they moved on to total reanimation projects. Series B involved resurrecting small a group of deceased agents from Project: Valkyrie. The results were limited to minor tissue revival. This was a failure but laid the groundwork for Series C. Initially successful, it all went horribly wrong. They were able to reanimate eight bodies. The subjects showed signs of mature cognition and reflexes. The details of the animation process have been redacted but apparently they used some proprietary chemical process by Ascendant Industries.

The Series C warriors were released on an ENE (extranormal entity) infestation in Afghanistan. The location was chosen for its remoteness. The original subjects, overcome by instabilities in the forces animating them, fragmented and formed a multitude of monstrous creatures. They then attacked a village and absorbed the bodies of the villagers and soldiers fighting there. Using their remains to repair themselves.

Vito walks over to Shaw’s office and knocks on the door. “Shaw, you got a minute?”

Shaw pauses her deep breathing exercises that Dr. Sorenson had started her on. “Come in!”

Vito walks in and passes the folder to her. “You might be interested in this.”

After flipping through it for a few minutes, she asks, “where did you get this?”

“It sort of fell into my hands so to say.”

“They are reanimated corpses…” She flips to the last page. There a series of numbers at marked off: C-1, C-2, C-3a, and so forth. It is a check list with all crossed off except C-6b. Shaw realizes that C-6b must be Community.

She passes the file back to Vito. “I should mail this to myself. Just in case someone comes looking for it.”

They begin to plan how to find the creature, Community. Vito tells her about the Men in Black‘s search at park. "I told the group I’m involved with that they need to bring the rest of you in. I’ll keep you informed of their search."

“Why do they think it is there?” Shaw asks.

Vito fills her in on their surveillance and the tracking device they had planted on it.

Shaw calls Robert Mill into the office. Her plan is to focus on the morgue plan and find it there. Shaw points out it has been damaged so it will needs parts. When they find it she wants them to follow it. she doesn’t want to kill it yet, not until they know what it knows about the Hillcrest Mental Health Center.

Robert advocates bringing Dr. Sorenson into the plan. He also suggests focusing their efforts on people who work at the morgue but are there when they are not on duty. Community seems to like to impersonate others.

They split into two shifts. Meanwhile Shaw directs Erin to investigate the nearby tunnels.

County Morgue, Downtown, March 18th, 2:28 AM

Robert Mill listens to his iPod, leaning back in a chair in the security office of the morgue. The last couple hours had been quiet. Almost everyone had gone home and the morgue was empty except for a pair of technicians down by the coffee machine.

Mill looks up at the video feeds as a someone walks past the camera. Its one of the day shift workers heading toward the morgue.

Rob calls Vito outside. “Hey, there is no reason Terrance Johnson should be here at this time. He came in at camera 16.”

Vito head toward that entrance and waits for the suspect to return.

Meanwhile Robert watches the suspect do something to one of the body. The angle is bad but he thinks ‘Terrance’ is operating on the body. After 15 minutes, the suspect leaves the morgue. Robert calls Vito, “He’s coming out. He’s heading your way.”

Robert calls the others and together they trail the suspect throughout the night, passing off the tailing before he can get suspicious. Vito finds the work easy, remembering the training work Shaw drilled into him months ago.

Dr. Sorenson has more difficulties. He clenches up and almost loses the suspect. For a moment the suspect looks back and nervously the psychiatrist trips. He tells Shaw as she takes over, “its so real, not like in practice.”

Eventually they tail the creature to a park north of the city. Dr. Ilyes follows the creature into the park but loses track of him. Vito confirms it is the same park as the Men in Black were searching but not an area they have checked yet.

As Ilyes wanders along the path, Robert calls him. He tells him to go down the path and see where it leads. He finds a cabin with the lights on. Now they know where it lives.

The group gathers by the park. Robert tells them that the creature stole part of a brain this time. Vito meanwhile checks the sight lines for the cabin. He tells Shaw he plans to take over surveillance.

“What do you hope to learn?” she asks.

“Its activities, when it sleeps, and when it leaves. Maybe we can have a look inside the cabin. Possibly put a video camera inside.”

Shaw likes the last idea. She wants to learn more about it.

Robert suggests that Dr. Sorenson be the one to talk to the creature when the time comes.

“Me?” he says surprised.

“If you are okay with that,” Robert says. “It hasn’t attacked any people yet.”

Dr. Sorenson nervously mentions the child at the Hillcrest Mental Health Center.

“Whatever those things are, they are not children,” Robert retorts.

Dr. Sorenson catches Shaw watching the video again. “Stop watching it. We talked about it in session.”

Robert brings up how they might restrain the creature. He suggests Vito shoot its legs out but Vito isn’t convinced.

In the end they decide to have Dr. Sorenson talk to it first.

Shaw explains. “I’m not saying we aren’t going to kill this thing, but if we want to get any information on it our best way is to talk to it. And if it comes after us we will makes sure we are ready.”

Night of March 17th through March 18th

Dr. Sorenson sleeps poorly, his dreams troubles with images of pitchforks and torches. There is a monster out there.

Meanwhile Vito spends the night and the next day watching in the cold damp park as the storm brews overhead. From his hiding spot he watches the cabin. The creature doesn’t emerge until near sunset. It is wearing his friend Nick’s face again. He sends a text to the other investigators: ‘its on the move’.

Shaw is closing up the office for the day when it arrives. Dr. Sorenson is finishing up work. Robert stops the surveillance of a possibly cheating husband. They all gather at the park.

While Vito watches for its return, the other three enter the cabin. The door is unlocked. It is tiny inside, the inside walls covered in hundreds of pieces of papers, each bearing a drawing of some sort.

As Robert to sets up a camera to monitor the creature, Shaw takes a look around. Dr. Sorenson meanwhile looks at the pictures hoping to learn something about the creature’s mental state.

“Make it quick, we don’t want to stay here too long,” Shaw tells the others. She walks around the edge of the room with her phone out, documenting the pictures as quickly as she can. The pictures shows people, places, buildings.

Sorenson looks closer at the artworks. They are well done, drawn in charcoal, pan and pencil. Many are of the Seattle area, especially the Hillcrest Center. As examines them closer he finds writing on the margins and backs: “Azoth calls to me”, “I dream of gears turning under the madhouse”, “Make me whole”, “Make me normal”, “I want to be normal”, and “Something wants to speak to me.” The phrases repeat through out the collage.

The doctor examines its bed. The covers are tossed and the discolored mattress seems to have been shifted in the creature’s sleep. He figures it is sleeping poorly. It is also clearly fixated on the Hillcrest Center. It has some unrealistic belief that the building is the solution to its problems. He suspects its delusions and mental imbalances make it unable to function in society.

Shaw meanwhile spots so pictures of locations far from here: deserts, seas, and laboratories. A damp paper on the floor shows a soldier standing in front of a truck bearing the logo of Ascendant Industries. She also notes with some dismay that her phone is working properly. Reception is very poor and the screen flickers from time to time. “There is some sort of electrical disturbance. I hope the camera works.”

She turns to the single table. There are dried streaks of blood on the unfinished surface. The trail leads to the edge of the table. below it is a simple tin bucket. The interior of the bucket is caked in blood. She quickly takes pictures of the disturbing scene. The crude tools: a steak knife, some needle and thread, a sharpened piece of metal. There are no signs of antiseptic or painkillers.

Looking up she tells Robert to point the camera at table. Standing on a rickety chair, he makes the adjustments.

Sorenson fills them in on his assessments. “YIt wants to get into the Hillcrest center because it thinks it will make it healthy and normal.”

“And you know what is in there?” Mill asks.

“No,” he replies. “Its off limits. I’m not even sure how to access the basements. But this creature is getting information on it somehow.”

They leave the cabin and regroup with Vito. Shaw tells them about the file and Ascendant Industries. The company went bankrupt around a year ago, after they lost their contract. “They were under contract with the U.S. government, trying to reanimate corpses and things went wrong. This thing is the last of the test subjects. I have some ideas but Vito I’d like to know your thoughts on what to do about the creature.”

Vito tells them about the Men in Black. “I think they are covering up their mistakes.”

“And what do you think?” Shaw presses. “I haven’t shared anything about your time in the service.”

vito relays to them the horrors of fight in Afghanistan. “I was on overwatch so I was able to get away. My suspicion is that the agents have been assigned to eliminate evidence of the mistake.”

“Do you think they will come after you?” Shaw asks.

He weighs the idea. “Possibly.”

“You plan to tell them what we found here?” Robert asks.

“I haven’t yet. But they are checking out this park. They will find it soon. We are on a tight time schedule.”

Robert turns to the others. “What do we want to accomplish here? If we tip them off, they will kill Community and that’s one solution to the problem. Its easy to get that solution.”

Shaw replies, “well I think Dr. Sorenson is on to something. Look at how far its traveled. And right to here. Unless it was tracking you, Vito, it seems drawn to Hillcrest.”

They discuss their plans. They all agree that it may have information useful to them.

“It may have some answers for us about the children,” Sorenson says.

“The important thing is does it know anything about Frank?” Robert responds.

“I think we should talk to it,” Shaw decides. “I’d like to watch it for a day and then confront it.”

Lake Forest Park, March 19th

Vito spends the day in his hiding spot, occasionally watching the video feed from the hidden camera. The storm rumbles overhead and occasionally the transmission turns to snow. Commmunity returns to the cabin well after midnight. Vito watches on the camera as pulls a severed foot out of a bag and proceeds to replace its own.

After the grisly display it puts the remains in the bucket. It takes it outside and dumps the bucket out further down the trail.

Just them Vito gets text message from Agent Gray. ‘Meet you at the park’

As Vito heads to the meeting spot, Robert Mill keeps watching. Community is drawing a series of black cubes.


Vito arrives in the parking lot where the Men in Black are getting ready for another night of searching.

“Have you thought about my suggestion at all?” he asks Agent Gray.

“Yes,” the old man says. “How much do they know?”

“A lot.”

“And they have dealt with things like this before?”

“Yes.” Vito continues, “also there are complications to this.”

“What kind?”

“We believe C-6 is involved with something under the Hillcrest Mental Health Center. It seems to be seeking something under there. Something that has been there for a long time in the tunnels beneath the center.”

“Tunnels,” the gray haired agent mutters. “I’ve lost a lot of good men in tunnels.”

“It also can communicate. I think it would be good to talk to it first in case there is a greater threat.”

“I should meet with your team,” Agent Gray says.


Shaw gets a text from Vito: ‘Come down to the park and bring the team, I have some people who want to talk to you.’ He adds an address.

She texts back: ‘Now?’

‘Yes’ he replies.

Shaw calls the others. Robert is playing World of Warcraft. Sorenson is still awake, speculating on how the creature mimics other people. She texts Vito: ’We’ll be there in an hour.’

Vito tells Agent Gray, “I think searching tonight would be superfluous.”

Lake Forest Park, March 19th 11:30 PM

Shaw and the others pull into the parking lot. A black van is parked on the far end. She can see Vito and Agent Gray talking nearby.

They pull up and exit the car. Vito walks forward. “Agent Gray this is the head of One of a Kind Investigations.”

Shaw extends her hand. “Lillian Shaw.”

Agent Gray shakes her hand. “So Chief here,” he says gesturing to Vito, “says that you know quite a bit about this.”

“Well I think we were approaching this from different angles. Good thing Chief was on both of our teams,” she says with a hint of sarcasm.

“He’s been very helpful,” the man in black tells her.

“Has he?”

“So what is your angle in this?” the old man asks.

Shaw explains their job. “I believe Chief has already shared the video. He also said you are able to track the creature?”

“We were but the tracking device has failed.”

Agent Lynch and Agent Jacobs exit the van.

“So what do you want to know Agent Gray?” Robert asks.

“Well since we are both trying to make sure this creature doesn’t hurt anyone-”

Dr. Sorenson interjects, “I don’t believe it has a violent nature.”

“In my experience everything has a violent nature,” Gray says.

Vito and Lynch share a look at this.

Gray continues. “We want to make sure this creature is kept away from the general public.”

“So are you from some branch of the military?” Shaw inquires, moving closer. She spies a rack of shotguns and rifles in the van.

when Gray doesn’t respond immediately, Robert adds, “well we agree we don’t want this creature, Community as it calls itself, harming anyone. But through my observations, it has not yet shown predilection towards attacking people. If you locate this creature we have questions for it. I don’t know if your plan is to shoot first ask questions later or-”

“Depends on how agreeable it is,” Gray says.

“How long have you been tracking it?” Shaw asks.

“We’ve been tracking it, personally, for a few weeks now,” Gray explains.

“But this hasn’t been the first time you’ve been tracking it,” Vito says.

Agent Gray gives Vito a questioning look. “My organization has been tracking it for a few months. Since we realized it escaped.”

“Otherwise you wouldn’t have been in Afghanistan,” Vito offers as an explanation.

Dr. Sorenson says, “from our previous encounters with this creature, if it feels threatened its going to run. My intuition is that if it has interacted with you before it might have reason to fear you and your team. More than our team. I might be able to talk to it. We think it might be in communication with others. We want to know before you deal with it. The source of its information would be very helpful to us to know.”

Agent Gray mulls the idea. “Sure. You can have a crack at it.”

Shaw asks if Agent Gray is looking for any information from the creature.

“My orders are to capture it or kill it if I can’t,” he tells her.

“How do you intend to capture it?” Sorenson asks. “Our evidence suggests it is tremendously strong.”

“My experience suggests things like this can take a lot of damage without dying,” Gray says coldly.

“So you intend to wound it until its incapacitated? Then you can bring it in before it can recover?”

“Yes,” Gray says.

“I guess tranquilizers would not work on it?”

“No.”

Shaw looks to others, trying to gauge their intent. She expects they have delayed the men in black long enough that they won’t find Community on their own tonight. Shaw outlines to Gray how they will help in the search. They take part of the park to search and leave.

Vito raises eyebrow at Shaw’s duplicity, but she remains composed.


As they drive away to the part of the park where the creature actually is, Shaw says, “we need to get this thing’s side of the story. Afterwards its perfectly reasonable to kill it. But if something horribly wrong is happening at the Hillcrest Center and we may need to work with the creature. And Vito I don’t think your friends would agree to that.”

Vito accepts the logic.

“I don’t know,” says Dr. Sorenson. “I don’t think they are going to hurt us but I do think they are going to shoot first and ask questions later when it comes to this creature. They didn’t have any means to subdue it other than damage.”

“Yes,” Shaw says. “I think we should confront it in the morning.”

Sorenson speaks up again. “I have a dumb idea but it could be a good idea. I could just wait in its cabin until it comes back.”

Shaw thinks. “It is probably getting home about now.”

They decide to adjust their plan and have Sorenson confront it tonight.

“Do you want Mill with you?” Shaw asks.

“I’m afraid it might see a threatening face.” He turns to Robert, “did it see you?”

“Conceivably,” Robert says.

“Though you didn’t shoot it,” Shaw adds.

Vito advises Dr. Sorenson to approach the creature from outside the house, rather than surprise it by already being inside the cabin. Dr. Sorenson agrees. Vito then helps Shaw and Mill camouflage themselves in the woods near the cabin. Dr. Sorenson waits farther away until he gets the signal from Vito that Community is back at the cabin.

Lake Forest Park, March 20th 1:40 AM

Vito gives Dr. Sorenson the word. The nervous psychiatrist walks up the dark trail to the cabin. He knocks.

As Community opens the door, Dr. Sorenson has his hands up. “I just want to talk. I promise I’m not going to hurt you. I just want to talk. I have some questions. I’m from the Hillcrest Center.”

“Come inside,” the creature says.

Just as Sorenson enters, the video feed cuts out.

Inside, Community offers Dr. Sorenson the one chair in the room.

As they begin talking the video pops back up. Dr. Sorenson sits down, putting his hands on his knees.

“You are from the Hillcrest Center,” Community says calmly.

“Yes, I’m a doctor there,” he explains. “I’m wondering what your interest is with Hillcrest? I know you think it will help you but do you have more specific information? Why do you keep wanting to go there?”

“There is something beneath the building,” the patchwork man explains.

“Do you know what it is?”

The creature has trouble answering. “No, no. It is…beautiful. I see it in my dreams.”

Sorenson presses for details. “How do you know there is something there? Who told you?”

“No one told me,” it says serenely. “It calls to me.”

“I’m aware of your condition. That you have degenerative difficulties with your organs and limbs that need replacing.”

“Can you fix me?” Community asks.

“I’m not that kind of doctor,” Sorenson explains. “I focus more on psychology and understanding the mind. I might be able to help in other ways.”

Outside in the woods, the others become aware they are not alone. Shaw alerts Vito. The sniper scans the woods, picking out Agent Gray among the foliage.

Dr. Sorenson evaluates the creature’s intelligence. Its vocabulary is good but its sentences are simple. He probes some more asking about its goals. “…and whatever is there will help restore you to how you were before you gained this condition?”

“No,” it clarifies. “To make me whole.”

“To make you whole? To who you were before this happened?” Sorenson asks.

“I don’t know what you mean by ‘before’.”

Shaw tries to text Dr. Sorenson but the electrical disturbance interferes.

Dr. Sorenson continues his conversation. “I know there have been others looking for you and trying to hurt you. I’m afraid they won’t stop their search.”

He asks about Community’s dreams. The creature tells him of glimpses of a machine beneath the earth, of gears turning, and strange black cubes.

“Have you located an entrance to the tunnels?” Trevor asks. “I’ve been looking for an entrance as well for my own reasons.”

Community confides in him. “I think there is an entrance in the subbasements. I think I know where they sealed it off.”

“Can you describe it to me?”

Community describes the details: the stairs to descend, the passages to take, the wall to break through. All elements of his dreams. Outside the vito watches it on the video as he texts to Shaw about what to do about Agent Gray.

“Who were these children trying to stop you?” Sorenson asks.

“I’m not sure. They weren’t…,” Community struggles to finish.

“I don’t know what they were either,” Trevor says. “But they are inside the Center. But they don’t work there. I want you to know that.”

Community admits to killing one of the ‘children’.

Dr. Sorenson asks, “did you have to kill anyone in the past?”

“Yes,” is its reply.

Trevor realizes the creature has only a child-like morality. It fails to realize the consequences of its actions. For a moment he feels a little bit guilty killing it.

Vito sends a message to the Men in Black to hold position. He also sends them a link to the video feed. Somewhere Agent Noah fails top notice the message.

Inside the cabin, Sorenson tells Community, “your condition is very unique. Do you know how you came to be like this?”

“They made me like this,” the thing explains.

“Who made you?”

“The scientists. They created me and the others. But we were made wrong.”

Trevor agrees with it. This thing should not exist. But he doesn’t let his disgust show. “You think you could lead me to this entrance and we could use this entrance together?”

“Yes,” it agrees.

Trevor however worries what they will do if they meet the children.

“I can protect you from them,” it tells him. “They are weak.”

“Sometimes talking someone is better than hurting them,” Sorenson tells it.

“Last time I talked to someone they shot me.”

He tries to calm the thing. “I promise I did not come here to hurt him. I just came here to talk.” He asks if there are others like him.

Community explains that it is the last. The other things died in the village. Sorenson also learns that the creature only needs parts when it is damaged. Community however changes parts in an effort to perfect itself.

“I think the ones hunting you might find this place soon,” Sorenson says. “Perhaps we should go to the Center now. Do you want to go now?”

“Let’s go.”


Dr. Sorenson leads Community out of the cabin and down the trail. Trevor decides this thing is better off not being alive.

“I have a car parked not too far away,” he tells it. “We can take it.”

“I’ve never driven in a car before,” it says curious.

He humors it. “Well I can drive and you can be the passenger. Won’t that be fun?”

“Okay.”

In the woods, Shaw texts Sorenson. The doctor says, “Oh I have a telephone call.”

He looks at his phone. Shaw is asking what to do. He quickly taps out a message: ‘Its leading me to the subbasement but I think I can find it without its help. It is dangerous.’

Shaw sends a text to the others: ‘prepare for strike.’

Vito checks for any contact from the Men in Black. There is no message but he can see several agents in the woods. They are hanging back for now.

“Do you have a name?” Sorenson asks.

“Community,” it tells him.

“Did you choose that name or was it given to you?” he asks with idle curiosity.

“I chose it.”

“Why did you chose it?”

“It is what I want to part of,” Community explains. “What is is your name?”

“My name is Trevor.”

“Why did you chose that name?”

“I didn’t choose that name. My parents chose that name for me.” Sorenson gets a text from Shaw about the strike. He suddenly stops walking.

Community keeps walking for another ten feet. There is a bang and the sound of shattering bone. Perplexed Community begins to fall, its spine shattered.

In the woods, Robert Mill feels a pang of guilt. He thinks about not firing.

As Community plunges to the ground, Vito readies his second shot. Another blast rings out. Community’s torso is ripped open. A spray of blood lands on Sorenson who shocked at the suddenness of the death freezes up.

The Men in Black pour out of the woods, training their guns on the still form on the ground. Trevor drops his phone. In the darkness Robert shakes his head.

Shaw soon reaches Sorenson. “You okay?”

“It just exploded. There was blood and parts…”

Robert catches up to her and begins to leads Trevor back to the car.

“Did you get all the information?” the stunned doctor asks.

“Yes,” Mill says. In fact he can’t ever forget it or Community’s murder.

Sorenson tries to justify himself. “It admitted to its monstrosities. Maybe the things in the tunnels would cure it but maybe not. It needed to die.”

“I didn’t hear it admit to any monstrosities,” Robert objects.

“You didn’t?”

“Maybe I didn’t hear what you heard.”

Sorenson stumbles along the path. “It admitted to killing creatures. It admitting to stealing body parts to upgrade itself.”

“Yes, body parts from a morgue,” Robert stresses.

“But it admitted to killing creatures before. Maybe it killed them and took their parts.”

Robert is upset. “But was it creatures that it sought out and killed or was it creatures that attacked it? You didn’t ask that did you? The only time I saw it attack was when it was defending itself. Then it ran away. From what I saw it didn’t understand what it was doing.”

“But it killed the children.”

“They were attacking him,” he retorts.

The two argue back and forth on the trail and the ride back to Sorenson’s house.

Back at the park Vito asks, “We’re done?”

“We’re done,” Agent Gray confirms.

The agents burn the remains and remove all evidence that the creature was ever there. Shaw snags a trophy without them noticing. Gray thanks the both of them for their assistance.

While Shaw and Gray talk, Vito removes their hidden camera from the cabin.

Shaw says to Gray, “I’d appreciate that you’ll contact us next time your are in the area.”

“Certainly. I hope you let me in on your plans a little more next time.”

“Still learning who to trust,” she admits.

“I understand. Its a hard thing.”

With that they leave. In the coming weeks, One of a Kind Investigations is paid by the County Morgue and Vito receives a check for his work.

View
Body of Evidence, Part II

Hillcrest Mental Health Center, March 4th, 10 AM

Dr. Sorenson looks over his notes. ‘This is too crazy,’ the pad says. Frank‘s case just keeps getting weirder. Dr. Ilyes’s findings were impossible yet they were true. What are the Sandmen?

He looks up as an orderly opens the door and leads Frank in. The older man looked tired and distracted. The doctor thanks the orderly and turns his attention to the patient.

“So how are you feeling Frank?”

Frank rocks back and forth a bit, hugging his arms. “Lot of kids in the hallway.”

Dr. Sorenson asks about them, recalling the man’s earlier statements involving the children and the Sandmen. Frank tells him that strange children are wandering the hallways laughing. He also tells him of strange doctors and nurses appearing at night.

“Where did you see these people, Frank?”

“I don’t know. I don’t go out at night. I stay in my room.”

Sorenson leans in and ask if the children are dangerous.

“I don’t know. They took the Sandman away,” he replies.

Sorenson decides to confide Ilyes’s findings about the Sandman with the damaged man. When he comes to the part about the creature healing itself, Frank says, “you should burn the bodies.”

“We’ve come to that conclusion as well.”

They talk some more about fighting and countering these creatures abilities. Sorenson says, “I had a question about the holy water. Do remember where you got it?”

“It was a friend of mine,” Frank says. “A friend of mine gave it to me.”

Sorenson probes further learning he obtained it from a priest. Frank explains, “There was some strange stuff on the south side.”

“I’d love to meet with this friend of yours and find out how this water is prepared. It might be very useful weapon against the Sandman.”

Frank strugles with his memory and then says, “I think he went back to Italy.”

“That is unfortunate, perhaps there are others of his order around?” Sorenson tries to probe further but Frank can’t remember more. He decides to try another tactic. “Do you have any questions for me? I spend most of my time trying to get you answer my questions.”

As Frank tries to think of a question, he continues, “if you can’t think of one right away just jot it down and we can discuss it at our next session.”

Then he rings for the orderly to take Frank back to his room.

March 5th through 12th

Robert Mill spends his week at the Medical school pretending to be a student. In the evening he hangs out at the study hall and chats with the other students. They seem to be unaware of the break ins. In gathering opinions about the professors he hears an interesting tidbit about Dr. Woodruff. It seems the old woman is losing her hearing. As one student explains, “I passed her by one night and she totally ignored me.”

More interestingly, Mill overhears some of the staff discussing a set of missing to the building. The secretary says, “I was sure we had three sets of keys to the morgue.”

The firm follows up this information on Friday the 12th. From Dr. Wilkens, they learn that three professors have keys in addition to the three pairs kept in a lock box in the main office. From the secretary, Janis Fogg, they get the sign out log. The person who took the keys left an unintelligible scrawl but based on the times it must have happened a few days ago. Janis claims Dr. Woodruff signed them out. Dr. Wilkens has yet to talked to Woodruff.

Shaw tells him, “let me look into Dr. Woodruff first. I didn’t see anything strange in her financials. I’ll get back to you in a couple hours.”

The department head agrees to sit on the information for a couple hours.

Shaw gives Mill a call. “Have you heard anything about Woodruff?”

Mill tells her about the rumors of her hearing loss. They speculate she might be distracted. Also the incident occur suspiciously late at night. Shaw is able to discount a financial motive but directs Mill to check the scrawl against Woodruff’s normal signature. They also begin planning a stakeout of the morgue.

Shaw’s research into Dr. Sarah Woodruff turns up little incriminating. A doctor for 40 years, she is nearing retirement. Her finances are good and she is happily married with no health issues. She’s been teaching a reduced class load but there is o pattern between the schedule and the thefts.

Shaw decides to discuss the strange message Mill found on his computer with Dr. Sorenson. The mention of ‘do not trust the children’ and ‘avoid the tunnels’ resonate with material from Kenneth Thomas‘s notes about ’baitman’s children’ as well as the children that Frank mentioned carrying off the Sandman.

“Sorry I haven’t been in touch lately,” sorenson says when she calls. “I keep hoping for a breakthrough with Frank. But just little bits of information here and there.”

Shaw broaches the subject. “Turns out there is a connection between what he had said and another case we are investigating.”

They fill each other in. Intrigued, Sorenson says, “I wonder if we could investigate this facility at night.”

Shaw seems supportive but wonders if the children are the same ones Kenneth mentioned.

“Frank is under the impression that they are helping to thwart the Sandmen from intruding into the center,” Dr. Sorenson says. “Maybe I’ll have to stay late after work to investigate these children.”

“If you need help I’ll be happy to join you,” she says.

“Some backup may be a good idea.”

The two plan to meet up after 8 that night. Just then there is a knock at Sorenson’s door. “If you need anything else, let me know, I have an appointment.”

Sorenson hangs up and Anna Wade, one of the secretaries, hands him a file.

“New patient?” he asks.

“No, she’s been with us a while. I guess you are the next one to-”

“Have a crack at her?” he interrupts.

“Yes.”

As the doctor digs into the file of Lara Woronov at the Hillcrest Mental Health Center, Shaw calls Erin Bartram to give her the task of looking into the tunnels under the university and Hillcrest.

Offices of One of a Kind Investigations, Downtown, March 12th, 6PM

There is a knock at Shaw’s door. Erin cracks the door open.

“Hey Bartram,” Shaw says looking up from the records on her desk.

The dark skinned woman nervously grips a folder. “Just put together a report. I didn’t expect you to be here.”

Erin shows her the report. The other woman has collected maps, depositions, and more for both locations. “These are the original tunnels. Here we have the additions put in 1965 and 1998.” She explains that only a few custodians have access to the tunnels.

Erin turns to the second half of her report.

“Hillcrest, that’s where Frank is isn’t it?” she says uncertainly.

“Yeah,” Shaw replies.

“It has,” she pauses, “an interesting history.”

“I haven’t looked much into its history myself. It was well recommended though.”

Erin outlines its history from its founding in 1882 by Dr. Ignatius Hopper to the present day. The East Wing, where Frank is housed, is the original building. There are tunnels to the West Wing and supposedly substantial subbasements. She has a map of the grounds. “I haven’t been able to find any maps of the tunnels. Much of the work was done in 1907 after a fire.”

“What is the West Wing used for?” Shaw asks.

Erin explains it is primarily houses the therapy areas as well as a coma ward. She goes on to describe how the tunnels were sealed up afterwards. There was talk of working on the tunnels back in 80s but nothing came of that.

“I did charmed my way into the archives and find this.” Erin hands Shaw a piece of paper. It is a letter from a company called Hoyle and Shepherd about their decision to back out of work involving the subbasements. “That was the firm that was contracted to do the renovations.”

“Is there a copy of the depositions?” Shaw asks.

“No. Shall I look more into this?”

Shaw tells her no and explains their consultant Dr. Sorenson. “Have a nice evening.”

As Shaw packs up she texts Robert about the tunnels beneath the university. She tells him to check tunnels. She leaves a copy of the report on his desk.

University of Washington, University District, 8PM

Robert tries another grate. Rusty but definitely not locked. He thinks back to the report, remembering the layout of the tunnels with crystal clarity. One more to go.

A few minutes later at the edge of campus he pulls on a final grate. It easily swings open. His keen eyes spot flecks of rust on the ground nearby. Someone’s been using the tunnels.

Hillcrest Mental Health Center, 8 PM

Shaw pulls into the darkened parking lot next to the Hillcrest Center. She rings Dr. Sorenson and heads for the entrance. The grim visages of four saints look down on her as she passes into the building.

Dr. Sorenson lets her inside. “I hope you’ve eaten, the cafeteria is closed.”

Shaw tell him about the tunnels beneath the building. Sorenson knows nothing about them but is not surprised. She asks, “I don’t know if you can get a hold of it but there is supposed to be a more detailed deposition in your records.”

“I can look into it,” he says leading her to his office.

“Have you asked Frank about Baitman’s children or any other details of the case?”

“No but we could go up to see him if you’d like.”

“Sure.”

The two go upstairs. The halls are quiet. They pass a single orderly on the way up to the third floor. “Working late, Dr. Sorenson?”

“Yes, I have a new case load. Hope things work out.”

A few minutes later they reach Frank’s door. “Frank, its Dr. Sroenson. Do you have a minute to talk? I have a guest here. A friend of yours.”

Franks bald head appears in the small window. “Hi Frank”, Shaw says.

“Hi Shaw.”

Dr. Sorenson unlocks the door. “I thought we could talk in here, in private.”

Dr. Sorenson describe the group’s investigation of the children to Frank.

“They come out a little bit later,” the older man says.

Shaw asks, “Frank I was wondering if you had heard of the Baitman or if these children have anything to do with Baitman?”

Frank gets a distant look in his eyes. “I’ve seen that name.”

He thinks for a moment. “On a wall. Downstairs somewhere.”

“A doctor’s name?” Sorenson asks.

“Yeah, a Dr. Bateman.”

Dr. Sorenson notices Shaw’s puzzlement. He asks, “you were thinking a different context?”

Shaw explains she thought this was tied to the fish cults. She was thinking the spell as B-A-I-T instead of B-A-T-E like someone’s name.

Frank adds, “I think it was down by the lobby.”

“We could go down there to check,” the doctor offers. He turns back to Frank. “What do you think the children’s purpose is?”

“I talked to Michael,” the inmate says, refering to another patient. “He said they live downstairs.”

Shaw and Sorenson discuss if the children are a danger to Frank. He claims they carried off a Sandman. “Michael says they carried off a patient once.”

Sorenson asks if Frank feels safe.

“I’ll be safe,” he says, his eyes darting to end of his bed where it hits the wall.

As the two realize Frank has a weapon hidden here, Dr. Sorenson leans in to him. “Be sure that none of the orderlies know you have defenses in here. They might misinterpret. I understand you need to be safe.”


Shaw and Dr. Sorenson return to the lobby.

“Do you know a Dr. Bateman?” Shaw asks.

Sorenson admits there a lot of people working here and he isn’t acquainted with most of them. He logs into the computer system and checks the employee directory. “No matches.”

“Frank told them he saw it on a wall,” Shaw says.

As they look around the room, Dr. Sorenson realizes he never really read the list of directors on a plaque in the entrance hall. Right under the current director is: Dr. Thomas Bateman (1980-1991).

Shaw googles his name on her phone. Apparently the former director went to jail for murdering his assistant Dr. Alexander Valerio. He was sentanced to 26 years in prison but was murdered in 1993 by a former patient.

Dr. Sorenson tries to reassure her. “I hope you know not everyone who works here is crazy.”

They discuss investigating the basement but Shaw thinks it would be safer during the day. They decide to stakeout the third floor from an empty room near one of the stair wells.

Hillcrest Mental Health Center, 2 AM

As the rain falls outside, Sorenson focuses on the smallest noises. The singing and yelling of a few hours ago are long over. He glances out at the wet darkness outside the tiny window.

Then he and Shaw hear child-like giggling echoing down the hall. It is distant and coming from the direction of the far stairwell but there does seem to be some children in the halls.

Dr. Sorenson sneaks out of the room with surprising quietness. Shaw follows him. He reaches a corner and looks down it. There, near Frank’s room, he sees an unfamiliar doctor talking to a child.

The doctor’s back is to him but the child’s face looks angry, with an almost feral rage. The starved urchin is dressed in filthy clothes too large for him. Then the child launches himself at the doctor and begins to claw at him. The doctor loses his composure and with one arm lifts up the child and smashes him against the wall.

As he pulls the child back from the wall, Frank’s door opens. The old man stabs the strange doctor with a homemade shiv.

The child is smashed against the wall again and a painful crunching noise can be heard. Suddenly the child turns to black goo that splashes across the floor.

“Noooo!” Trevor screams as he runs forward and slams into the doctor.

Shaw sees him run around the corner. She pulls her gun as she follows him. She sees Frank and Dr. Sorenson struggling with a large man in a lab coat. A large black smear covers the floor. Frank stabs again and again into the man.

“Stand down!” Shaw shouts.

The strange doctor flees down the hall and smashes through a windowat the far end. Shaw chases after him, following the trail of blood. Looking down from the window she sees the man crouched 30 feet below. The man looks up inot the rain as a bolt of lightning comes down.

In that instant Shaw sees that the man is really made from a patchwork of different people. Then it vanishes into the darkness.

Shaw’s mind refuses to process what she saw. Dr. Sorenson still shaken by what he saw tries to calm her down. Get gets Frank back into his room and cleans the blood from his shiv. “I’ll cover for you Frank.”

Then he returns to Shaw. “Let go back downstairs and talk about what happened.”

She stare blankly at the window.

“I know it was completely crazy,” He says. He glances around at the broken glass, blood and black goo. “But this isn’t something we should discuss here.”

He leads her to his office and they talk.

“The lightning hit him,” she says. “It actually hit him. It lit him up and did you see that!”

“I didn’t get a real close look at it,” he admits.

Shaw shakes a bit. “He was stitched together, he was like-oh my god-could he have been stealing the bodies? Is that the connection?”

“I don’t know, its possible.”

“He was stealing body parts like a finger,” she says loudly. “We couldn’t figure out why.”

“Its possible, its possible,” sorenson says. He begins to ramble as well from the adrenaline. “The children seems to be protecting the people here from creatures that come here to collect things. We have to find a way to talk to the children and learn from them. We have to try again, perhaps another hall or corridor, or a subbasement to see where they live. I’m going to get us some coffees. I’ll be right back.”

The two talk for a half hour but don’t more sense of it. Shaw at least however regains some composure. But after she leaves, Sorenson goes back up to check the hall. The black goo and the blood is gone.

Saturday, March 13th

Dr. Wilkens calls Robert Mill. He explains he talked to Dr. Woodruff but that she denies that she took the keys. But also has something else to tell him. “I was talking to a friend of mine at the county morgue, Stephen Chang. We get a lot of our cadavers from there. It came up that he’s been having the same sort of issue. Maybe its not someone here or not just someone here.”

Robert verifies that the culprit at the morgue has the same MO. “Has he been investigating as well?”

“I don’t know.”

He tells him thanks and rings Shaw. He tells her about the county morgue connection.

Shaw says, “I have a possible suspect or at least a connection. I saw something really strange at the asylum last night.” She explains the sighting of the patchwork man and explains her theory that it was taking body parts to add to itself or make more of itself.

Robert brings up the section of the message from Infinity: ‘the thief knows not what he does.’

They discuss the unanswered questions brought up by this. Shaw says tiredly, “I should have collected samples. I wasn’t thinking clearly.”

“That will happen in these circumstances. Its disturbing. In light of this information, how do you want me to proceed?”

Shaw asks if he learned anything about the tunnels. Mill describes the possible access point and suggests checking the morgue as well. Shaw decides to have Erin look into it. she also tell him that Dr. Sorenson is searching for records on the tunnels under Hillcrest.

Something nags at Mill though. “But this creature didn’t attack you? It also didn’t go into any tunnels and instead ran out a window and onto the grounds?”

“Yes but I think it was just an expedient retreat. If you can survive a 3-story fall that is.”

Mill turns to more mundane matters. He asks if he should stay at the school. “I’m not picking up any more information here.”

“We were hired to make sure it wasn’t an inside job,” Shaw says. “I want to clear Woodruff first. But start closing it up, typing up your reports, and see what you can find on Woodruff.”

“I’ve been spending a lot of time with her and I haven’t seen anything strange.”

They decide to stake out the morgue that night.

Medical School, University District, 8 PM

Shaw nods to Mill as she passes by the study lab. Erin was already watching the tunnel entrance at the edge of campus. Shaw lets herself into the morgue and hides herself in a storage closet.

A couple hours later, Mill spots Dr. Woodruff walking down the hall. He glances at the clock 12:34. He sticks his head out and sees her head for the morgue. He texts Shaw: ‘incoming woodruff’. He then starts to follow her carefully.

Woodruff enters the morgue. Robert pulls his gun and a can of mace. His phone vibrates. checking it, he sees a text from Erin: ‘entrance is open’. He forwards the message to Shaw. She sends back: ‘radio silence’.

Inside the detective peers through the crack of the partially open storage room door. The elderly doctor enters the room and heads over to the cadavers. Shaw fails to notice the door open again and her partner slip in. Shaw starts recording with her phone, video taping the whole scene.

Woodruff stops. She turns around. She looks directly at Shaw.

Shaw emerges from the closet.

“Who are you?” warbles the doctor.

“What are doing here so late Dr. Woodruff?” Shaw asks.

Woodruff hesitates but calmly replies, “looking at the bodies.”

“They’re good,” the detective assures her. Robert, unseen by all, crouches by the door.

“There are some new specimens and I needed to check them,” the ‘doctor’ says.

“Yup, they’re really fresh. Its already been done.”

“What are you doing here?” the old woman asks. Her voice is even and emotionless.

“Don’t you know?” Shaw asks, her arms still outstretched recording the entire conversation.

“No”

“Who are you?” Shaw asks.

Robert checks that they are the only ones in the room.

“I’m Dr. Woodruff,” the woman says. “That what you said.”

With her other hand, Shaw checks her gun is clear. “Yeah and what’s your first name?”

As the woman hesitates, Shaw says louder, “I’ll ask again, who are you?”

She points her gun at the woman. She puts up her hands. “I-I’m not here to hurt anyone.”

“Then answer the question please,” Shaw says testily.

“I’m Community,” the woman says.

“What you’ve been doing has been notice,” Shaw explains.

“What do you mean?” she says innocently.

“The pilfering of the bodies.”

“I needed to fix things, to fix myself,” she explains.

“You look fine,” Shaw says confused. “What do you mean?”

“There’s imperfections. I need to fix myself. So I don’t have to disguise myself anymore.”

“What disguise?” Shaw asks.

Community reaches up to her face and pulls it on it. As she pulls it seems to maguically wipe away. Instead of Woodruff, they see a strange androgynous person with a face mades from dozens of different patches of skin. Her clothes changes as wel, transforming into rags. On one should the tattoo ‘C6’ can be ssen.

Shaw flinches in disgust. She drops her phone and with both hands on her gun begins firing.

The first round strikes it solidly in the chest. It immediately starts to flee. It reaches the door and see Robert crouched there. Panicking it rips the door off its hinges and flings it across the room.

From his vantage point Robert can see the bullet hole stitching close before his eyes. He sprays it in the face with his mace. As it flinches back, Shaw puts another round into its shoulder.

They chase it down the hallway. Robert hits autodial for Erin on his phone as they go. It busts the doors to the outside open and rushes for the nearest tunnel entrance.

“Erin! Its going for the tunnels!” Robert shouts.

Shaw shoots it again as it dive into the tunnels. Robert drops in behind it. He pauses a moment to pull a flashlight and then races down the dark corridors with only the sound of its fading footsteps and his mental map to guide him.

Shaw calms herself down. She goes back into the building for her phone and the evidence on it. As she looks at the destruction it wrought in its escape, she realizes she’ll need to give a statement to the police. She finds Bob Evans, the security guard.

“I think we scared off your body thief,” she says.

“What the hell happened?” the overweight man asks.

She looks that broken doors. “I’m still not sure how it managed to do this. It really looked a lot of Dr. Woodruff but it wasn’t her.”

“So it was some sort of impersonator?” he asks confused.

“Yeah, I guess,” she doubting herself. “It was dark. It looked like her. I guess I wasn’t hiding well enough. It made a threatening gesture and I shot at it.”

She pauses. “Mill is down in the tunnels chasing it. I recommend you get better security for them.”

Looking at the room she can see blood splatter from her shots. Its less than she would expect.

Meanwhile in the tunnels, Robert makes it to the exit. The creature is long gone. Erin is standing nearby pressed against a wall and looking down the street.

“What was that thing?” she asks.

“Are you okay Erin?” he asks.

She shakes nervously. “It ran off, it jumped across that street.”

“Its alright, let’s get back.” He begins to lead her to the car.

“What was that?” she asks again.

“I don’t know. Shaw has a recording of it. It will be alright.” He manages to calm her down and lead her back to the medical school. The police have already arrived.

Shaw gives them a statement, claiming she saw a figure in disguise and that it came at her. She says she fired a warning shot and then it destroyed the door.

“Its kind of strange to call it an in but…” she says gesturing to the damage.

March 13th through 16th

Shaw still troubled by her recent experiences sets up some counseling sessions with Dr. Sorenson. He starts her off with deep breathing exercises.

The police decide not to pursue any charges against Lillian Shaw or One of a Kind Investigations. Unfortunately the forensic evidence was contaminated by foreign material. The blood splatter reveals a host of different blood types.

Dr. Woodruff apparently was on the other side of the city with her husband. Their job complete, One of a Kind Investigations gets paid by a somewhat confused but satisfied Dr. Wilkins.

Shaw has Mill contact Stephen Chang about hiring them to look into the county morgue thefts.

Meanwhile Dr. Sorenson does research into the tunnels beneath the Hillcrest Center. The company hired to do the rebuilding of hospital after the fire demolished the entire East wing and built more modern structure upon the ruins. The architect was a Frank Teesdale, who models the lowest subbasements on a series of preexisting tunnels. However after construction was complete, Dr. Edward Brake, the director at the time, had them sealed up the lowest levels.

Along the way he learns the tortured history of the facility, the deaths and scandals that have plagued its directors, and the disturbing work that was done there. Strangely he is unable to find any record of a fire 10 years ago, despite the reference in Lara Woronov’s files.

He does find some other papers and notes, misfiled in the facilities ancient filing system. One cryptic note details mad ramblings of Laurence Merrigan who murdered Brake’s successor. Another by Brake himself, admonishes a junior doctor not to investigate the subbasements. A final transcript comes from Adam Backer, who killed Dr. Bateman in prison. He claims Deros made him do it.

The current owners of the Hillcrest center are a group of medical and pharmacology companies. They include the non-profit Pleusus Guild, which runs the coma ward in the West wing, as well as Peregrine LCC and Weide GmbH.

Over the week, Robert brings up the fact that the creature, whatever it is, doesn’t seem hostile. It has always fleed from them. “It seems really strong but instead it chose to run rather than fight.”

Shaw is unable to bring herself to agree. Robert still would like try to talk to it.

The investigators and Sorenson meet during the middle of the week to discuss the case further. The doctor still thinks the children serve as a some sort of defense system for the Hillcrest center.

Shaw still wants to tie this Kenneth‘s notes on the children. "They could be some sort of fertility cult. Maybe that’s what’s down in the basement?"

“I think it is in our best interests to get into the subbasements,” Dr. Sorenson says.

Robert interrupts, “one question is why was this creature even at the hospital? There are no body parts there.”

No one has a good answer to that. Also even if they are defending Hillcrest, they can’t be trusted. Infinity warned them.

“That doesn’t mean they are bad,” Dr. Sorenson says, defending them.

Mill is unconvinced.

Talk turns to who cleaned up the mess after the fight in with the creature at Hillcrest.

“Maybe the children cleaned it up,” Robert offers.

They discuss the cleaner staff being in on it or even being replaced by doppelgangers or patchwork men.

Shaw tell Dr. Sorenson, “I still think if you try to make contact with the children again that you take someone with you.”

“I’m not going to do that again,” he says emphatically. “There is a lot crazy things happening there. Its dangerous.” He then espouses his theory that these creatures are products of pharmaceutical companies.

Dr. Sorenson is not ready to go to the Hillcrest board of directors about this matter. They decide to begin checking that people are not being replaced or infiltrated by doubles. At the same time Dr. Sorenson begins his own plans for sneaking the group into Hillcrest.

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